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Archive for the ‘Menstruation’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: THE ROOTS feat. JILL SCOTT-“You Got Me” (1999).

I’ve wanted to listen to more from The Roots ever since I was exposed to them on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.  But as typically happens, I’m listening to other things instead.  So this seemed like a good opportunity to check them out (based on Samantha Irby’s rave below).

One of the best things about this recording (and The Roots in general) is Questlove’s drumming.  In addition to his being a terrific drummer, his drums sound amazing in this live setting.

Erykah Badu sings on the album but Jill Scott (Jilly from Philly) who wrote the part, sings here.

It starts out quietly with just a twinkling keyboard and Scott’s rough but pretty voice.  Then comes the main rapping verses from Black Thought.  I love the way Scott sings backing vocals on the verses and Black Thought adds backing vocals to the chorus.

Midway through the song, it shifts gears and gets a little more funky.  Around five minutes, the band does some serious jamming.  Jill Scott does some vocal bits, the turntablist goes a little wild with the scratching and Questlove is on fire.

Then things slow down for Scott to show off her amazing voice in a quiet solo-ish section.  This song shows off how great both The Roots and Jill Scott are.  Time to dig deeper.

[READ: November 1, 2020] Wow, no thank you.

This book kept popping up on various recommended lists.  The bunny on the cover was pretty adorable, so I thought I’d check it out. I’d never heard of Samantha Irby before this, but the title and the blurbs made this sound really funny.

And some of it is really funny. Irby is self-deprecating and seems to be full of self-loathing, but she puts a humorous spin on it all.  She also has Crohn’s disease and terribly irritable bowels–there’s lots of talk about poo in this book.

Irby had a pretty miserable upbringing.  Many of the essays detail this upbringing.  She also has low self-esteem and many of the essays detail that.  She also doesn’t take care of herself at all and she writes about that.  She also doesn’t really want much to do with children or dogs.  And yet somehow she is married to a woman with children.

From what some of these essays say, it sounds like she is married to this woman yet somehow lives an entirely separate life from the rest of the house.  It’s all rather puzzling, although I suppose if you are already a fan, you may know many of the details already. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: SHE & HIM-Christmas Party (2016).

The first She & Him Christmas album was a little flat, a little dull.  So I wasn’t that excited to get a new one.  But this one is so much more fun than the first.

Zooey Deschanel feels much looser and freer and the music is more lush and not so restrained.  It’s still not anything like the craziness that Zooey Deschanel is capable of. In fact, there’s a lot of restraint.  But some fun is certainly have, mostly as little asides.

“All I Want for Christmas Is You” starts the album and you can hear the big change.  There’s a choir singing behind her which sounds huge (in comparison) and Zooey puts a nice vibrato on her voice.  There’s drums and a bouncy beat.  This album feels very much alive compared to the first one.

“Let It Snow” slows things down.  But it’s and jazzy very appropriate to the song.

“Must Be Santa” is a silly fun track.  This one has accordion and a bouncy backing chorus.  Like in the Dylan version, they list the presidents along with the reindeer.  But it hurts a lot that after the first batch of presidents, they tack on Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton, which hurts a lot.

“Happy Holiday” has a pretty, echoey guitar and Zooey really shows off her voice nicely.

“Mele Kalikimaka” is a favorite Christmas song.  This version is a little delicate compared to the more rocking version, but it does capture a Hawaiian spirit.

“Christmas Memories” is a bit too slow for my liking but it is a pretty song.

“Run Run Rudolph” M sings lead.  This song is kinda dumb when you actually hear the words.  I’m surprised they didn’t upend gender stereotypes on this one like they did on “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”

“Winter Wonderland” a duet with Jenny Lewis.  It’s fun to hear another voice with hers.  There’s a goofy moment where Jenny sings, “we can pretend he is Jerry Brown.”

“The Coldest Night of the Year” is a nice sweet duet.  When the chorus comes in with Ward in the backing vocals it sounds really great.

“A Marshmallow World” is perfect for her.  Fun and bouncey and surprisingly restrained for what it could have been.

“The Man with the Bag” is pretty and old-fashioned-sounding.  Zooey does this style very well.

“Christmas Don’t Be Late” This normally hyperactive song is almost like a dirge.  I don’t know why the excitement has been removed from it.  It’s a bummer way to end the record.

[READ: December 1, 2017] “Eva”

Once again, I have ordered The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This year, there are brief interviews with each author posted on the date of their story.

Hello. Welcome. It’s finally here: Short Story Advent Calendar time.

If you’re reading along at home, now’s the time to start cracking those seals, one by one, and discover some truly brilliant writing inside. Then check back here each morning for an exclusive interview with the author of that day’s story.

(Want to join in? It’s not too late. Order your copy here.)

This year I’m pairing each story with a holiday disc from our personal collection.

This story is really wonderful.  It’s sad and strange and powerful.

It opens with a man visiting “the hairy child” in Quetzalenango.  The girl is Eva.  Her mother hopes this man is a doctor.  But he is not.  He is a representative of Doña Teresa de Miraflor, a Cuban heiress who was setting up the Society of Scientific Knowledge in Havana. (more…)

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shadowSOUNDTRACK: ERIC CHENAUX-Skullsplitter [CST112] (2015).

chenAn album named Skullsplitter sounds like it should be really heavy and loud.  But if you know Chenaux, you know that that’s not his thing at all.  So what wins?

The traditional Chenaux wins.  At times light and beautiful and at times wobbly and disorienting, Skullsplitter sounds like many other Chenaux releases.  And you either like him or you don’t. His slow songs, vibratoed guitar and really delicate voice either win you or not.

“Have I Lost My Eyes?” has one of the most wobbly guitars I can thing of (even for him).  The slow electric guitar solo is pretty much perpetually played with wah-wah bar in motion.  After 90 second of this, Chenaux’s delicate tenor voice comes in and sings a melody that is not exactly suited to the music, but which doesn’t sound off, either.  Classic Chenaux.

Alternating with the vocal pieces are instrumentals.  Chenaux plays a lot of ringing and delicate solos and overdubs them.  And the instrumentation is pretty varied: Voice, electric guitar, un-amplified electric guitar, nylon-string guitar, speakers, melodica and electronics.  “The Pouget” is roughly two minutes long.  “My Romance” has a kind of warbling guitar solo over some mellotron.  “The Henri Favourite” is another 2 minute slow piece with a slow guitar solo played over some keyboards.  The last instrumental is quite different.  “La Vieux Favori” changes the tone with a bowed sound (although you can see there’s no violin listed–he must be bowing the guitar).  It doesn’t have the same smoothness as the other songs, although it is certainly interesting, especially near the end when it is just that bowed instrument with no accompaniment.

“Skullsplitter” is, as I said, a mellow song just like the others.  His voice is relaxing and calming and the music is also mellow with waves of keys.  I’ve never really tried to figures out the words to any of his songs before–he sings so slowly it’s kind of hard to follow the thoughts.  But the lyrics to this song are the cover art.  And seeing them printed, I still don’t know what they mean.

“Spring Has Been a Long Time Coming” is the most friendly song of the bunch–music and vocals meld perfectly, and Chenaux’s guitar sounds beautiful.  The 8-minute “Poor Time” has a jazzy feel as it unfurls slowly.  It intersperses his vocals with a delicate but wildly-wah-wahed solo.  The final track, “Summer & Time” ends the disc with some pretty acoustic guitars and Chenuaux’s delicately soaring voice.

[READ: June 1, 2016] Lighter Than My Shadow

I was looking on the shelves in the library for some books and I saw this book on the shelf next to them. I loved the title, Lighter Than My Shadow and when I pulled it off the shelf, I really liked the drawing style that Green employs.

I genuinely had no idea that this book was going to be about woman suffering from body issues and anorexia.  It all seems obvious, but i didn’t look that closely at first.  Such a topic could be really hard to read about, but I was also really surprised and delighted at how good the book was.

She covers her mental state in all capacities.  And she really demonstrates the way her body rebelled against herself.  In fact, this was the most compelling and complete look at anorexia that I have ever seen.

There is something about the way her drawings style–simple figures and even simpler backgrounds work perfectly in this story.  She is able to show herself getting thinner without resorting to shocking illustrations (well, there are one or two mildly shocking ones).  The most effective part of the book is the black scribble that hovers around her representing her interior self. (more…)

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dq25SOUNDTRACK: ARCHER PREWITT-“O, KY” (2005).

wikldernessArcher Prewitt formed The Coctails (a kitschy lounge act) in the early 90s, several years before the lounge revival.  Then he joined The Sea and Cake and has been making amazing music with them.  And he has also released several solo albums.

He has also published some comics (Sof’ Boy) with Drawn & Quarterly.

This song comes from his album Wilderness.  The title of the song is clever, too.

It’s upbeat and folky with a little psychedlia and rock thrown in.  I like Prewitt’s voice quite a bit–it’s simple but really strong.  But the selling point on this song (and others from this album that I have listened to) is the composition and arrangement of these songs.

I like the way this one goes from simple guitar to orchestration (although presumably not a real orchestra) for the chorus.  And how post chorus there are flutes and other instruments to pick up the momentum which adds a vaguely psychedelic feel to it.

At four minutes (the song is five) it changes direction entirely and turns into a nearly new song with big guitars and drums. And it rather rocks.

And just to make Archer the all around dude that he is.  He also drew the cover art.  Jeez.  He’s probably super nice and friendly, too.

[READ: January 3, 2016] Drawn and Quarterly: Twenty Five Years 

I have liked a lot of D+Q books for a long time, although I never really considered a comprehensive look at their publishing house.  This book–about 775 pages long–is about as comprehensive as it gets.

This book contains a few previously published cartoons and excerpts as well as a whole slew of previously unpublished pieces.  There are essays and histories and reminiscences and love love love for the little Montreal graphic novel publisher.

I didn’t know much about the history of D+Q–that Chris Oliveros started the publisher in 1989 out of his house.  That he was the only employee for years.  And that he was essential in getting the term “graphic novel” used by everyone–including the library of congress!

He weathered distribution problems, he weathered the rise and fall of indie comics in the late 90s and he has come through with some of the most beautiful books published.  D+Q has also brought attention to foreign artists as well as out of print artists.

Really, if you have any respect for graphic novels (that aren’t superhero-based) you owe thanks to D+Q. (more…)

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witmis2SOUNDTRACK: CÓDIGA DE GUERRA-“Wittgenstein Song” (2013).

codigoCódiga de Guerra is from Hidalgo in Mexico.  They have one album out (called Peyote).  I am having a devil of a time finding anything out about them.  You can stream the album on YouTube and you can even buy it from iTunes, but I can’t get any kind of band home page.

It should be apparent that I’d never heard of them before I saw they had a song called “Wittgenstein” and so here they are.

They sing entirely in Spanish, so I don’t really know what this song is about, but i really like it.  Indeed I like the whole album.  They have an indie rock feel–buzzy guitars and good melodies.  Some of the early songs on the album are even kind of mellow which made me think of R.E.M. for some reason.

“Wittgenstein” is the heaviest song on the album.  It opens with some echoed guitars (not unlike Kiss’ “Black Diamond”) but when the other guitars kick in, it is much louder (not heavy heavy, but louder).  The chorus gets kind of heavy again, but the song fades out entirely at around two minutes.  Then a buzzy bass comes back in and the echoed guitar plays the intro and the song starts again.  I heard the word logico in there so it may indeed be all about Wittgenstein.

Check out the song

or the whole album

[READ: October 16, 2013] Wittgenstein’s Mistress p. 1-60

Typically for a group read like this (especially the longer, harder books) I like to be a kind of touchstone–noting significant things that happen and trying to wrap my head around the book by summarizing it, without really speculating wildly about what will happen.  Well, Wittgenstein’s Mistress seems to studiously resist that sort of approach.  I am not typically a “solve it” kind of reader.  I don’t usually try to figure things out ahead of time.  If the book is well written, I just like to let it flow over me so I can think about it afterwards.

But this book more or less demands you to try to figure out what is going on right from the get go.

The cover image above shows the opening sentence:

“In the beginning sometimes I left messages in the streets.  Somebody is living in the Louvre, certain of the messages would say. Or in the National Gallery.”

followed soon by

“Nobody came , of course.  Eventually I stopped leaving the messages.”

Weird, right?  And then comes:

“I have no idea how long ago it was when I was doing that. If I was forced to guess, I believe I would guess ten years.”

Whoa.  And then the kicker:

“And of course, I was quite out of my mind for a certain period too, back then.” (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: NICK KUEPFER-Avestruz [CST072] (2011).

This is the first disc in the Musique Fragile 01 set that I’ll be writing about.  Kueper’s disc is pretty daring, at least for an unsigned artist.

The album is a series of short (1-4 minute) instrumentals, with each one featuring a different instrument as the lead–guitar, accordion, drums, violin.  And yet they aren’t songs so much as sketches, or even soundtracks to an unmade film.  The songs don’t have standard construction–they just seem to ramble on a little bit until they stop.  And yet the whole album has a cohesiveness that creates a picture.  In some places it’s more obvious than others, but you can hear woodpeckers and other birds (or possibly people whistling like birds?). .

I love “Corpse in the Wildflowers” (accordion), “Kettle” (percussion), “Red Sand Market” (acoustic guitar and accordion), “Blue Pig” (guitar and violin) and “Public Transit” (acoustic guitar).  “Tail Still Moves” is a slightly off-kilter sawing kind of song.  It’s not exactly pleasant but it brings an interesting aspect to the disc.  The final instrumental track has a kind of lo-fi Sebadoh feel (cool guitar riffs played on a crappy guitar).

Some of the tracks in the middle don’t really go anywhere “Vampyro” is just kind of meandering and “Bus Windows” is a bit long, but they all add to the soundtrack of this fake movie.  I keep picturing a dry Western town, a windmill creaky in the slow wind.

The final track is very confusing, however, it’s a “live,” poorly recorded song in which Kuepfer sings along with his strumming.  You can barely hear him and I’m nots ure what to make of it.  The birds are pretty, though.

The Constellation site says that these were field recordings done in Argentina.  So that’s pretty cool too.   I’d like to hear more from him, but I’d also like to hear a bit more of a complete idea rather than sketches.

[READ: December 3, 3012] “Fem Care”

This is the first story that I read which was recommended by Karen Carlson.  She describes it like this “As much fun as you can have with menstruation. Literary fiction doesn’t often look at professional women at work. This could be a little chick-lit for a guy. Somehow I’m thinking Carly Simon would be good here [for a soundtrack].”

Karen is pretty much right on the money.  I really enjoyed this story quite a lot.  It deals with women and business and women’s business.  The story takes place at the annual Beauty Summit in Miami.  The unnamed narrator works as a market researcher for a company that sells feminine beauty products.  “Fem Care” is shorthand for her division: feminine care products, a division that lacks any of the sex appeal of, say, skin care products.

The summit sounds dreadful.  As we zoom in on the scene a German man is making everyone laugh as part of  a kind of team building exercise.  The narrator has had enough and excuses herself.  This part in which the department head, Luis, is embarrassed by tampons, when that is what his very division markets is quite funny and is done very well.  And, I might add, the same basic joke was played out on 2 Broke Girls just this week, but Elliott Holt handles it with so much more grace and simplicity that the 2 Broke Girls writers should really read this story. (more…)

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