Archive for the ‘Chumbawamba’ Category

briefSOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Spiral Club, Guelph Ontario (December 18 1997).

spiral This show has an interesting technical glitch that the owner thankfully fixed. It was a soundboard recording (which is awesome), but evidently there was static in the right channel that rendered it unlistenable.  So he simply removed the right channel and mixed it mono.  The sound is actually excellent—one of the best early shows they’ve done.  But since there is only own channel, you miss a lot of what, I think, is Dave’s guitar.  When guest Tyler McPherson plays his solo, I believe you can’t hear it.  Yet despite that, it still sounds great.

I feel like the band was a having a lot of fun on this Thursday night in Guelph (every night in Guelph is a weekend). They mention that their Nightlines episode was aired on the night of Lady Diana’s death (so they feel some kind of weird connection to her).

There’s a few firsts in this set as well.  It’s the first time they plated “Junction Foil Ball” (from Nightlines).  They seem to have finally settled in with “Harmelodia” not “California” in “Easy to Be with You.”  They toss in a bit of “Tubthumping” at the beginning of “Horses,” and a bit of the Monkees, song “Look Out Here Comes Tomorrow)” at the beginning of “Queer.”

Of course there are some flubs as well.  Martin messes up California Dreamline big time and Dave gets lost in the counting of “Four Little Songs” (and then says he never went to school).

But it’s the banter that is the fun part of this show.  They ask the crowd not to shout out requests for a couple of songs.  There’s a very funny sequence in which they try to play a Coors lite anthem.  And Martin says he’s out of his mind.  Dave says he’s a madman and Martin calls him a manatee.  And then someone offers Dave an Islanders jersey which he says he can’t accept—it is too generous, but he’ll always remember it (and now so will we).

Before the end of the set, they offer the crowd some of the food they have backstage (if you like olives). But then they say that $18 was a bit steep of a ticket price for the show (can you imagine?).  So they’re going to play extra long because the ticket price was so high.  Man, how cool is that?

[READ: Summer 2013] Brief Encounters with Che Guevara

Several years ago (long before Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk) I read about Ben Fountain…somewhere.  I was reading an interview with a writer who talked about some new writers that he liked.  Ben Fountain was one of them, and this writer specifically mentioned this collection.  A week or so later I was in a dollar store of all places and saw this book on their piles of books.  I couldn’t believe the serendipity. So I bought it (for a dollar).  And then kind of forgot about it (so much for my theory that if I buy a book I’ll read it).  But I did eventually get around to reading it and now sadly not only do I have no idea who originally introduced me to Fountain, I can’t even find it with online searching (and frankly I could have read it anywhere).  Also, Fountain has since written Billy Lynn which received all kinds of praise (and which I haven’t read), so trying to find specific praise for Fountain from 7 years ago is a lost cause.

And just as I forgot to read it I forgot to write about it until now.  This was his first collection of stories.  There are eight in total.  Even though it has been awhile, most of the stories were so powerful and well constructed that I remember them quite well. (more…)

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zitaSOUNDTRACK: “WEIRD AL” YANKOVIC-Running with Scissors (1999).

Running_with_Scissors_(Weird_Al_Yankovic_album_-_cover_art)This is the first album Al released with is new look—LASIK surgery and long hair.  He looked quite different, but it didn’t diminish his song writing skills.  Running with Scissors is a pretty great collection of songs.

“The Saga Begins” is a genius parody taking the music of “American Pie” and merging it with the plot from Star Wars Episode I.  The way he retells the story is snarky and funny.  “My Baby’s in Love with Eddie Vedder” is a weird song—an accordion-based zydeco song about, well, a guy whose girl loves Eddie Vedder.  Vedder is kind of a weird person to pick (since he does make fun of him), although I guess it’s pretty mild abuse.  “Pretty Fly for a Rabbi” opens with a joke on a Def Leppard song (in Hebrew) but then moves on to “Pretty Fly for a White Guy.”  The original is pretty goofy and there’s not much Al could have done to it except this—changing it to being all about a rabbi. I like this version better than the original now.

The next track is the theme for The Weird Al Show.  It’s utter nonsense, but very funny.  And it packs a lot in to the 75 seconds that it lasts.  “Jerry Springer” is a parody of Barenaked Ladies’ “One Week.”  The original is pretty weird/funny, so this seems an odd choice, and yet Al’s specifics to the Jerry Springer show is pretty funny.  Of course I hate shows like that so I don’t love this song.

“Germs” is a style parody of Nine Inch nails (the song opens a like “Terrible Lie”, and then moves through some other songs).  The sound is uncanny in its soundalikeness (except perhaps the “microscopic bacteria” section which is a little too goofy sounding even for NIN.

“Polka Power” is one of the first medleys where the parodied songs seem utterly dated.  Like The Spice Girls, Harvey Danger, Backstreet Boys (which I only know because he says “Backstreet’s Back.” Smash Mouth.  Chumbawamba, Marchy Playground, and Semisonic.  Of course, there is also a Beastie Boys line (“Intergalactic”), but it’s a very era specific song.  “Your Horoscope for Today” is a ska song of horoscopes inspired by The Onion (which is hilarious).

Of course, nothing comes close to “Its All About the Pentiums,” Al’s first rap song about being a total dork  It is amazing—heavy guitars and lots of screaming.  It’s even more bad ass than the original.  And the smack talk is hilarious Asking about his computer: “You think your Commodore 64 is really neato.  What kind of chip you got in there, a Dorito?”).  I can listen to this song over and over.  It’s a wonderful precursor to “White and Nerdy.”  “Truck Drivin’ Song” has a remarkably deep voice for Al. It’s about driving a truck (as a transvestite).  The humor is childish but funny and with that voice it’s particularly so.  “Grapefruit Diet” is another series of jokes about being fat, but it works very well as a parody of “Zoot Suit Riot” with the jazzy horns and all.

That leaves “Albuquerque” an eleven, yes eleven, minute story song.  It’s a style parody of a song by The Rugburns which I didn’t know until recently (called Dick’s Automotive, but that song is much more “adult” than Al’s. The song is simple enough but the lyrics are wondrously absurd and very very funny.  And as it goes on and on and on you just marvel at the mind that created it.  And it’s catchy too.

Scissors is a great album which holds up quite well after 14 years.

[READ: June 23, 2013] Zita the Space Girl

I’d actually read the sequel to this book first, but I quickly found this first book and the family devoured it, too.

This is a charming and sweetly drawn series about a girl, Zita, who winds up in outer space.  As it opens, Zita is being a bit of a bully to her friend Joseph.  Not horrible but teasing in the way friends can do.  And when they find a giant meteor hole and a space-type gadget with a big red button on it, of course she threatens to push it in front to him,  He freaks out, but she does it anyhow.  And when she does, another dimension opens up and sucks Joseph away.  Oops.

So she pushes it again and winds up in the same place which she realizes is very very different from her own.  The thing that has Joseph is all tentacles in a diver’s helmet.  But that’s just one of the weird creatures here (as seen in Gilliam’s Guide to Sentient Species–which I take as a tribute to Terry Gilliam).  Like Strong-Strong, a large lumbering biped (who helps Zita), and a group of chicken creatures (who do not).  There’s also a man who plays a flute (called Piper) who may or may not be a friend.  She also meets a giant mouse named Pizzicato, but which Zita just calls Mouse.  Mouse is very sweet and communicates through a printer around its neck. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: CHUMBAWAMBA-“That’s How Grateful We Are” (1990).

Chumbawamba called it quits this week after 30 years of being a band together.  Most people assume they put out one single and that’s all. And in some ways that is true.  Because most of their other music was way too radical to be played anywhere–even when it was as catchy as this.

This is a six-minute dance-funk song off of the first Chumbawamba album I ever heard (Slap!).  It opens with a little girl saying “Okay, lay some drums on me.”  After some drums and hammered percussion, she says, “gimme some bass” and a funky riff starts.  It’s followed with accordion, horns guitars and, Chumbawamba’s signature–chanting.

It’s a call and response song with a wonderfully catchy chanted chorus.

On first listen you might catch a few unexpected words (black lung, attack, attack, we took to the streets).  But then you get swept up in the chorus again (and maybe the accordion solo).  But on further inspection, the song is about the Hungarian Revolution of 1956:

Working in a forge, black lungs, burnt skin
Callouses, arched back, hammering, hammering
Stalin watching over us pigeon shit head
We’d spit on the floor at this red bastard god.

Not exactly pop music, but you can sure dance to it.  I haven’t listened to too much of their more recent music, but their early stuff is wonderful and worth looking for.  Thanks for the music lads and lassies.

[READ: July 2012] Lucky Peach Issue 4

I can’t get over how much I enjoy Lucky Peach.  I just loaned a past issue to a friend and he loved it too.  He’s looking forward to trying some recipes and he’s been fascinated by the articles, too.  I don’t read any other cooking type magazine, and yet I can’t get enough of this one!

DAVID CHANG & CHRIS YING are still on board with their note “From the Editors” and PETER MEEHAN, JONATHAN GOLD & ROBERT SIETSEMA talk about “American Cuisine, Whatever That Is”

This issue features a choose your own adventure from COURTNEY McBROOM AND ALISON ROMAN–“Voyage of the Taco Belles” in which they travel to Texas and California to compare “Mexican” food.  It’s a fun adventure with many pitfalls and many delicious locations.  No one could conceivably eat that much.

DREW ALTIZER-“Swan Oyster Depot” photos from the independent seller.

DAVID TREUER-“No Reservations” gives a fascinating history of the Objiwe peoples.  How they don’t have a cuisine per se, but they do have specific foods they eat.  Also, that their way of life was not decimated when the white man came because they did not eat bison, they ate from the water and from smaller animals.  But when the white man gave them fatty fried foods, their diet was changed for the worst.  A fascinating look and an unexpected content from a “food” magazine.

PETER MEEHAN, BRIAN KOPPELMAN, ANTHONY BOURDAIN and ELVIS MITCHELL all talk about the movie Diner.  I have never seen it, but it sounds pretty important in a certain range of cinema.  I liked hearing their various opinions of the movie.  Elvis Mitchell (from NPR’s The Treatment) is particularly funny.

TOM LAX-“The Schmitter” talks about The Schmitter a crazy sounding sandwich from Philadelphia that should give the cheese steak a run for its money.  (Cheese, Steak, Grilled Salami, “Special” sauce, Tomatoes, More Cheese and Friend Onions).  Yum!

HAROLD McGEE-“Harold McGee in Outré Space”–He’s back with a lengthy article on eggs and his attempts at peeling hard-boiled eggs without ripping the egg inside–his experiments are pretty out there!

BEN WOLFE–“American Microbial Terroir” How microbes and bacterium form on salami in different regions and how those bacteria inform the flavor of the meat.  Gross but very interesting.

STEVE KEENE-“Portfolio”  He did the cover for Pavement’s Wowee Zowee album and here has a new portfolio of his new style of painting–on plywood.

DANIEL PATTERSON-“We Waited as Long as We Could” He talks about the Rascal House, a restaurant that he went to as young kid with his grandfather.  It’s about the demise of this kind of establishment in general too.

BOB NICKAS-“Someone Has to Bring Home the Bacon” Nickas looks at Andy Warhol and his various accomplishments regarding foot (including the aborted Andymat)

JOHN GALL-“Defrosted Foods” a photo of defrosted foods

NOZLEE SAMASZADEH-“A Modest Proposal”  This clever article talks about eating foods and plants that we consider invasive.  The best idea is to sell back the Asian carp to the Chinese–they love it and we don’t eat it, meanwhile it is invading our waterways.  Seems we could get back all the money they owe us!  Plus, why not eat Nutria?

MATTHEW RUDOFKER-“Knives Out” Look at these amazing knives (that I will never buy).

JONATHAN PRINCE-“Photo-Op Food” A very funny article about politicians trying (and often failing) to blend into regions by eating “local” food.  And the funny photo-ops they often provide.

MARC MARON-“Pan-American” The tale of a used cast iron frying pan and the story behind it.

DOUGLAS WOLK-“Love, Love, and ALE-8 One” This is the story of an independent locally created soda.  It’s based in Winchester, KY and serves more or less the Winchester area.  The soda is in huge demand there.  It’s the story of a brief but failed expansion and a determined independent spirit.  Check out their site and stuff.

DAVID SIMON-“Pickles and Cream” appreciating the only contribution Simon’s grandfather ever made to the culinary arts.

LAUREN WEINSTEIN-“Sushi, USA” a comic about sushi.

MARK IBOLD is still on board (hurray!) bringing culinary fun from Southeastern PA.  This time: John Cope’s Fancy Golden Sweet Corn.

There’s of course lots of delicious (and sometime crazy) recipes written in their own wonderful somewhat disrespectful style.

Oh, and just to put your mind at ease, the picture on the cover is of a cow eating a veggie dog.  Even knowing that it’s still disturbing.

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