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Archive for the ‘Green Day’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: BILLIE JOE ARMSTRONG-“I Think We’re Alone Now” (2020).

This quarantine has already brought out a ton of creative work from musicians.  If not new items, exactly, then certainly a lot of home concerts.  And also a lot of cover songs.

Billie Joe Armstrong released the first cover that I heard about that was specifically quarantine themed (even if jokingly).

It includes a homemade video (of what one might do at home with a lot of time on your hands).

So, yes it’s a cover of the song by Tommy James and the Shondells.  It’s about 2 minutes long and it’s terrific.

A simple. formulaic Green Day pop punk take on a simple, formulaic pop song.  It’s instantly recognizable as Billie Joe.  He recorded the song in his bedroom.  I feel like it sounds like it’s not the full band (the drums are really simple and the bass isn’t as prominent as usual).  But it’s a really short poppy song, so the spareness is understandable.

Whatever the case, it’s a fun cover and one of the, by now, dozens of fun things musicians have done to keep busy.

[READ: March 20, 2020] Comics Squad: Detention!

I really enjoyed the first two Comics Squad books and I was delighted when T. got this third one.  I wanted to read it when she brought it home, but I forgot all about it until I saw it the other day.

And what a better time to read a book about detention than during a quarantine.

Like the first collection, this one is edited by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm (Babymouse/Squish) and Jarrett J.  Krosoczka (Lunch Lady).

This book has comics from Krosoczka, George O’Connor (the Olympians series), Victoria Jamieson (Rollergirl), Ben Hatke (many many great books), Rafael Rosado & Jorge Aguirre, Lark Pien, Matt Phelan and the Holm siblings.

Like the previous book, the Holms and Krosoczka sprinkle the book with comments and interstitials from Babymouse and Lunch Lady. Like that Babymouse is in detention and Lunch Lady is going to slide her some cookies (no cupcakes?). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: July 20, 2018] Weezer

I saw Weezer a couple of years ago in Bethlehem.  It was my first time seeing them, but I left feeling somewhat underwhelmed. They debuted 2 new songs, which was cool, but the show felt pretty short and I was really irritated by the crowd.

Tall, drunk college kids.  A lot of pushing and shoving (but not dancing) and I could not get close enough to the action.

I enjoyed the set designs and Rivers’ get ups.  But they finished in less than 90 minutes.

True they sounded great, but overall I was just a little blah.

I felt for sure if I could see better I would enjoy them a lot more.  And this proved to be true.

This show was not in support of a new album (I didn’t realize that), it was more of a career retrospective (sort of).  And what this meant was that they played a lot of songs I really like and, amazingly, they played not only more songs than the last time (very odd for a co-headlining show), they wound up playing nine songs that they hadn’t last time. (more…)

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gipiSOUNDTRACK: FOO FIGHTERS-There is Nothing Left to Lose (1999).

Foo_Fighters_-_There_Is_Nothing_Left_to_LoseThis album introduces drummer Taylor Hawkins and is considered the first “band” record from the Foo Fighters. The album was recorded as a trio—Grohl, Hawkins and Nate Mendel on bass (who played on Colour as well).  As with a bunch of these middle Foo Fighters records, I feel that it starts really strong and then kind of fades a bit by the end.

I love the big fuzzy sound that opens this record. It doesn’t sound like anything Grohl has recorded before. “Breakout” is a poppy song with a very summery opening. It’s propulsive and super catchy. “Learn to Fly” is another wonderfully poppy song with a great chorus (and a hilarious video).

The opening riff of “Gimme Stitches” has a total classic rock radio sound, which really shows the diversity they were going for here.  “Generator” opens with a talk box—toally retro man. Even though it a silly thing to add to the song, the song is really catchy.

“Aurora” is a lengthy mellow song. I guess I never really thought to much about it, but on reading about it, it proves to be one of the bands’ (and Dave’s) favorite songs.

I feel like the second half of the album suffers a little bit as the songs don’t really stand out.

“Live-In Skin” is a solid song although there’s nothing too special about it (especially given the other songs on the album). The riff is pretty cool though.  “Next Year” is a mildly catchy mid tempo song. It seems like it could have been Foo Fighters’ version of Green Day’s “Time of Your Life” if they had played their cards right.

“Headwires” has an interesting 80s sound in the guitar and Grohl’s whispered vocals. But the big chorus returns to the Foo Fighters sound.

“Ain’t It the Life” is a mellow ballad. It doesn’t quite reach the heights of the Foo’s other ballads though the slide guitar solo is a nice touch.  “M.I.A.” opens quiet as well.  It has a chorus that is pretty typical of the Foo Fighters, but it seems to either lack some oomph, or it gets stuck at the end of the album.

[READ: February 10, 2015] Notes for a War Story

I’m fascinated by how many translated works First Second publishes.  And it seems like a great resource for non-English writers to get published in the United States.

Gipi is an Italian artist and writer (this book was translated by Spectrum) and as with many other European artists, I could tell right away that the style here was not done by an American.  I wonder why that is.

In general, I don’t really care for Gipi’s books.  They are a little too bleak, a little to “ugly” for my tastes.  And yet the stories are quite compelling.  This one revolves around an unspecified war that is happening around the countryside (but not, for some reason, in the city).

The protagonists are young men adrift in a world where they are clearly lost.  Guiliano is a slightly richer kid than the other two and he is the narrator.  The other two are his friends Christian and Little Killer.

They learn about a man named Felix, who is leader of a militia.  When they go see him, he immediately takes a shine to Little Killer.  They talk and bond while Giuliano and Christian feel left out (and are rather naive I feel–I mean its obvious that Felix is a killer). (more…)

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greatestSOUNDTRACK: PINK FLOYD-“The Hard Way” and “Wine Glasses” (1974).

glassThis book informed me about these two unreleased Pink Floyd songs (there’s a Wikipedia site that lists some fifty more !).  While the were unreleased in 1974 (from the abandoned Household Objects album), they were eventually released in 2011 on expanded versions of albums.

“The Hard Way” features some “percussion” that sounds like someone taking steps.  There’s a bass riff which I gather is from rubber bands (but very well tuned).  There’s clocks ticking and chiming and tape being unspooled.  It’s a neat idea and while it is absurd to think you could make a whole album with this kind of stuff (in 1974), it’s a surprisingly good sounding track.

“Wine Glasses” was apparently made with wine glasses.  It is all of 2 minutes long.  It was designed to be a full song but was eventually used in the introduction to “Shine on You Crazy Diamond.”  I never really considered that there were wine glasses making the sounds (and clearly there are synths added on top), but yeah, so that ‘s kinda neat.

[READ: November 25, 2014] The Greatest Albums You’ll Never Hear

I found this book at work and knew I had to read it.  I was actually surprised at how long it took me to read (there’s a lot of entries).

The title and subtitle pretty much say everything you need to know about this book (and if you need to read it or not).  This book collects a series of writers who give a brief history of some of the more famous (and some not so famous) albums that were never released.  It explains (as best they can) why the albums weren’t released and even gives a percentage chance of likelihood of the album ever seeing the light of day (interestingly, most seem to be a 3/10–they may have been able to use a 5 point scale).

I knew some of the records they talked about (The Beach Boys’ Smile, Neil Young’s Chrome Dreams), but was ignorant of quite a lot of them. And while big fans of the artists may know all of the details about their favorite lost album already (these are sketches, not exhaustive research), there will certainly be some new information.  For instance, I’m a huge Pink Floyd fan but had no idea about the two shelved works mentioned here.

I liked the way the book was done chronologically and grouped by decade.  It was also interesting to see how the “reasons” for the non-release morphed over the decades from “the record label didn’t like it” to “it was leaked online.”

The one major gripe I have with the book is that it is chock full of “imagined” album covers.  This in itself is okay, but it is not made explicitly clear that they are all imagined (credits are given at the bottom of each image, but it took me a few entries to realize these were just people’s ideas of what the covers could look like).  And most of them are gawdawful.  Just really lame and dull (as if they had 20 minutes to come up with an idea).  They mar an otherwise cool collection,especially since some of the unreleased records actually do have proposed covers (even if they were never released).  I see that there is in fact a paragraph about the covers in the front pages of the book, but it is almost hidden away.

In addition to the albums I’ve listed below, I learned some fascinating things.  That Bruce Springsteen has hundreds of songs that he wrote but never released for various reasons.  That Pink Floyd did try to make an album out of household objects (with no instruments).  That the Sex Pistols’ Never Mind the Bollocks was almost simultaneously released illicitly as Spunk.  And that Danger Mouse’s The Grey Album was recently remastered.

The end of the book includes two small sections: other favorites that were never released.  Not sure why they earned only a small column instead of a full entry, but that’s okay.  The second was albums that we eventually did see, like My Bloody Valentine’s MBV and Guns N’ Roses’ Chinese Democracy.

So if you ever wondered what happened to that long lost album, this may be the book for you.

A sampling of the unreleased records include:

  • The Beach Boys-Smile
  • Buffalo Springfield-Stampede
  • The Kinks-Four Respected Gentlemen
  • The Beatles-Get Back
  • Jeff Beck-The Motown Album
  • Jimi Hendrix-Black Gold
  • The Who-Lifehouse
  • Wicked Lester
  • Rolling Stones-American Tour ’72
  • CSN&Y-Human Highway
  • Pink Floyd-Household Objects (1974), Spare Brick 1982
  • Dusty Springfield-Longing
  • David Bowie-The Gouster (1975), Toy (2001)
  • Sex Pistols-Spunk
  • Neil Young -Homegrown (1975), Chrome Dreams (1976)
  • Frank Zappa-Läther
  • Beastie Boys-Country Mike’s Greatest Hits
  • Weezer-Songs from the Black Hole
  • Jeff Buckley-My Sweeetheart the Drunk
  • Van Halen-IV
  • Foo Fighters-The Million Dollar Demos
  • Green Day-Cigarettes and Valentines (the author doesn’t believe it was actually stolen)
  • Tapeworm (Trent Reznor and Maynard James Keenan among others)
  • Deftones-Eros
  • U2-Songs of Ascent
  • Beck-The Song Reader

 

 

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aug2013SOUNDTRACK: GREEN DAY-¡Quatro! (2012).

quatroIf you have the hard copy of the three Green Day CDs, you’ll notice the back cover lists a fourth disc, ¡Quatro!.  I wasn’t really sure what ¡Quatro! was supposed to be, but I have recently found out that it is a documentary DVD/CD.  For those keeping track, Jason White who was a touring guitarist with the band for years and who has recently become a full-fledged member of the band, is on the cover.

According to press releases and such, ¡Quatro! will give a behind-the-scenes look at the creative process that resulted in the trilogy and their various live shows across the U.S.

It seems as though the release date is up in the air (no doubt because of the state of the band), although some of the material premiered as early as last November.  And their official site only says “in 2013.”  I probably won’t watch it as I find this kind of thing self-indulgent and pointless; however, some of these videos can be entertaining.  Indeed, if it had come as a bonus disc to one of the other three discs I probably would have watched it.

At any rate, the official trailer for ¡Quatro! is available on YouTube

And there’s a few other snippets (which were probably shown on VH1.

[READ: September 6, 2013] “Bed-Wetting”

Bed-wetting is fairly common, especially for those who are potty training.  Smallwood talks about all of the ways throughout history that people have tried to deal with it.  She gives this list (which I have abbreviated here):

  • Plugging the urethra
  • Constriction of the penis with bandages, strings, adhesives, or vises, one of which was described as a “formidable rat-rap looking instrument”
  • Eliminating sugar
  • Removing the child from school
  • Injecting the bladder with gaseous carbonic acid

(and I have left out a few of the more crazy ones).

By the late nineteenth century, naturally, Westerners began connecting bed wedding with masturbation (other symptoms of masturbation: flushed cheeks, paleness and paralysis).  At this time, victims were subjected to cold baths, hard beds and even whipping (which may have caused sexual fantasies but certainly didn’t help with bed wetting).

A fascinating piece of information—boys are more prone to night time wetting while girls are more prone to day time. (more…)

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aug2013SOUNDTRACK: GREEN DAY-¡Tre! (2012).

treThe third and final album of the trilogy is called ¡Tre! (and yes I enjoyed that they named this one ¡Tre! as opposed to ¡Tre! and put Tre Cool on the cover—not exactly the most clever thing around, but it made me smile and makes me think that they only did three albums so they could have this title/cover combo).  And, yes, this is my least favorite of the three discs.  It feels like a bonus disc—songs that don’t really belong anywhere else. It’s kind of an album full of ballads (but that would suck) so they made it mostly ballads with other things too.

Like “Brutal Love”  a slow ballad (complete with horns) that builds into a standard rocker (it’s got a very “rock and roll” vibe).  Many punk songs are really just rock and roll played fast and this is certainly one of those songs.  (I don’t care for that kind of punk so much).  “Missing You” is a another mid-tempo rocker–the kind they do very well.

“8th Avenue Serenade” has another cool sound (as in different from the rest of the album).  “Drama Queen” is an acoustic guitar ballad with creepy creepy lyrics. It’s probably my least favorite Green Day song ever.  “X-Kid”seems even more simple than other Green Day songs (does Billie Joe throw anything away?)  It sounds like a classic rock song form the mid 80s.  “Sex, Drugs & Violence” brings the disc back some with a fun poppy rocker.  “A Little Boy Named Train” sounds a lot like “Carpe Diem” from ¡UnoI (same chords, just played slower—although the verses do change it a bit.

“Amanda” a mid tempo rocker and “Walk Away” is another slow song that sounds like classic rock.  “Dirty Rotten Bastards” clocks in at over 6 minutes!  It’s got several short sections in it though (which makes it more fun). The first part is the melody of The Marines Song.  “99 Revolutions” is so catchy it even has a chorus with only drums (that lowest common denominator of songs that is guaranteed to get the crowd to sing along).

So yes, there are a few good songs in this collection, but they could have easily scraped out the good ones and dumped them on the first two discs and just put Tre’s picture on the back of both of them.

[READ: September 6, 2013] “Neighbors”

Unferth, like Julavits, writes a kind of narrative piece about sleeplessness.  It’s hard to imagine her living the way she does, but if you’ve read her memoir, she has certainly slept in worse places than a Chicago slum.  It turns out that her downstairs neighbor, Maximilian, would turn on his TV late at night and leave it on all night. The odd thing was that he had no electricity in his apartment—he ran an extension cord to the light in the foyer.  When Unferth would get fed up with the noise, she would go downstairs and unplug the cord.

But then Maximilian’s girlfriend Dorothy moved back in.  The two of them fought nightly—loud screaming fights that were worse than the TV noise (when Unferth unplugged the TV, Dorothy found an electricity source elsewhere, although Unferth couldn’t figure out where).

She makes a very interesting distinction about the type of noise that might wake you up as compared to visceral fighting of your neighbors.  From things like jets and trains (or a fire engine, like at my house): “You may lose sleep over them, but you won’t lose sleep over them.”  Whereas hearing your neighbors screaming at each other is far more disturbing. (more…)

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aug2013SOUNDTRACK: GREEN DAY-¡Dos! (2012).

Wdoshile I was writing about these songs the words “stupid” and “dopey” came up a lot and I realized that of this trilogy of albums, this may be the dopiest (I mean, look at the cover).  I assume that’s on purpose.  We know that Green day was taking a break from their serious albums and operas to make dopey punk rock.  But between the lyrics and the riffs, this one is really quite dopey.  Charmingly so.

¡Dos! opens with “See You Tonight” a tinny guitar sound that makes me think they’re goin to bust into The Allman Brother’s “Jessica,” but no, it remains a folky song that lasts for 90 seconds before it bleeds into “Fuck Time” a knuckleheaded, big drummed bluesy riff that  reminds me of Soundgarden’s “Big Dumb Sex” except that it might actually be serious.  And it may be the least sexy song about sex I’ve ever head.  “Stop When the Red Lights Flash” ups the speed even further (although they manage to have catchy verses that seem to recall The Who again).  “Lazy Bones” changes the tone somewhat, bringing in some nice ringing guitars (sounding more like The Strokes than punk) and a prettier feel (in the verses anyhow).  It’s probably my favorite on this disc.

“Wild One” is one of their rockier ballads.  It could probably do with being about a minute shorter, but the backing vocals are pretty cool.  “Makeout Party” is  stupid fun (with some wild solos, and even a bass solo section).   “Stray Heart” is a fun boppy song with, yes, a big arena-friendly chorus).  “Ashley” is a fast punky song (that plays high guitar notes rather than big chords).

“Baby Eyes” has  good harsh sound in the riff (a rare minor chord)–although again those verses are bright and happy.  “Nightlife” is the one glaringly odd song.  It has a silky bass line and a really interesting sound.  But it also feature an extensive rap by Lady Cobra (who I’ve never heard of).  The rap is just as silly as Armstrong;s lyrics, but somehow since she is speaking them so clearly (rather than hurriedly singing them) they seem even dumber.

“Wow! That’s Loud” is a wonderful title for a fast spirited song, with a dopey riff and some fun soloing sections (unusual for Green Day).  The disc ends like it began with an acoustic type ballad.  This one is called “Amy” and it is pretty much the quintessential sweet Green day ballad.

Although I liked this one, I preferred the first disc overall.

[READ: September 6, 2013] “Segmented Sleep”

I’m repeating this intro because of the content of this essay.  The timing of this Folio, entitled “Are You Sleeping? In search of a good night’s rest” is quite spooky.  I myself have been having middle of the night insomnia.  I seem to battle this occasionally.  This recent bout seems to be accompanied by a stomach upset.  So I have this really unfair cycle.  My stomach is bothered by caffeine, so it keeps me up at night and when I wake up groggy and with a headache, I need the caffeine to get me somewhat stabilized (and I’m not a big caffeine drinker—a cup of tea, maybe two a day).  But that seems to upset me during the night.  I am also really strangely accurate with my insomnia.  It is almost always between 2 and 2:30 AM. So, yea, here’s other people interested in sleep deprivation.

[begin new content] Although Julavits’ piece read like a story, Ekirch’s has a much more academic style.  Turns out that he wrote about a history of sleep for his dissertation and for part of his book At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past.  This short essay focuses on “segmented sleep.”  It turns out that in pre-industrial nights, sleep was segmented: a first and second sleep bridged after midnight “by an hour or more of wakefulness in which people did practically everything imaginable.”  This second sleep is mentioned in Odyssey and Aeneid.

In the 1990s a sleep study was done.  Males were deprived of artificial light at night for a few weeks.  They began sleeping in segments as well.  This seems to be a natural circadian rhythm to our lives.  Indeed, It was in the 1800s that segmented sleep gave way to one longer sleep—when lighting and industry came to dominate our lives.  And we felt compelled to be awake when it was light out so we could be more productive. (more…)

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aug2013SOUNDTRACK: GREEN DAY-¡Uno! (2012).

unoLast year Green Day announced that they were going to release three back to basics albums (a sort of antidote to their operas and concept albums).  And lo, there they came: one, two and three.  Oh and in the meantime, Billy Joe Armstrong had a kind of mental breakdown or something.

I’ve enjoyed Green Day’s releases since Dookie–they write simple pop/punk songs that are fun to sing along to.  Not all of them are winners, but many are.  Billy Joe has a knack for a pop hook. So when I say I liked all three of these records, it is with the understanding that these aren’t genius records, they are fun, kind of silly records.  Or, as I like to sum them up: simple three chord pop punk with supremely catchy choruses.

¡Uno!, the first one, is comprised of a lot of these simple, catchy rockers.  There are super fast rockers like “Nuclear Family” “Let Yourself Go” “Loss of Control” (with the fairly lame bridge of “we’re so crazy, oh so crazy now”–even by Green Day standards, that’s pretty lame) and “Angel Blue.”

There’s also slower rockers (which last longer) like “Stay the Night” “Carpe Diem” (with pretty harmonies and falsetto) “Troublemaker” and “Fell for You” (which if it was slower and sung by a girl group would be a perfect girl group song from the 1950s–except for the “pissed the bed line” of course).

Then there’s the jittry “Kill the DJ”, a song I instinctively dislike, (because of the stupid chorus) but which is undeniably catchy.  Even the Green Day songs I don’t really like I find myself singing along two after a couple of listens.

The last three songs change the tempo of the album a bit and each song stands out in its own way.  “Sweet 16” is a big ol’ ballad (with really falsettoed vocals).  It’s a pretty standard ballad from them, not quite as lighter-raising as their huge ballads, but this could have been huge if marketed right.  Along similar lines is “Rusty James” their more uptempo radio hit—big choruses, backing vocals a wonderful bridge—three chords and a major hit.  You have to be really jaded not to tap your foot to this one.  And the final track, “Oh Love” feels like a big 70s rocker (reminiscent of the Who).

There’ a lot of cursing on this album (mostly of the “we don’t give a  fuck” or “you’re a stupid motherfucker” variety).  And while I don’t object to that in principle, it comes across as really lazy songwriting.  Of course, this is a 40 minute album of pop punk and three chords, so it’s not exactly an unlazy album to begin with.

Of the three this is my favorite.

[READ: September 6, 2013] “Restlessness”

The timing of this Folio, entitled “Are You Sleeping? In search of a good night’s rest” is quite spooky.  I myself have been having middle of the night insomnia.  I seem to battle this occasionally.  This recent bout seems to be accompanied by a stomach upset.  So I have this really unfair cycle.  My stomach is bothered by caffeine, so it keeps me up at night and when I wake up groggy and with a headache, I need the caffeine to get me somewhat stabilized (and I’m not a big caffeine drinker—a cup of tea, maybe two a day).  But that seems to upset me during the night.  I am also really strangely accurate with my insomnia.  It is almost always between 2 and 2:30 AM. So, yea, here’s other people interested in sleep deprivation.

Julavits writes about her vacation home in Maine.  Her family spends a few months there each year and it often happens that she is simply hunting the house for sleep while her family snores on.  Beginning at 12:20, she leaves Husband bed and heads off to the other options: Child One, an uncomfortable futon; Child Two: a single air mattress (“basically [a] pool toy for houses”). (more…)

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cpatain 10 SOUNDTRACK: “WEIRD AL” YANKOVIC-Bad Hair Day (1996).

bad hair dayBad Hair Day is an uninspired album title, especially given how great of an album it is.  As I posted last week, “Amish Paradise” is great, (I forget to mention the funny Gilligan’s Island verse in the middle.  “Everything You Know is Wrong” is just a magnificent They Might be Giants parody.  Now, TMBG and Weird Al are pretty kindred spirits (they both use accordions and sing silly songs).  In that respect, this song isn’t that different from a typical Al song, but there are so many great musical nods to TMBG that the song is just awesome.  And it’s very funny too.

“Cavity Search” is a parody of U2’s “Hold Me Touch Me Kiss Me Kill Me” and it works very well, both as a great soundalike (Al’s vocal tricks get better with each album) and the way he plays with the original (the drill solo is great) are really clever.  “Calling in Sick” is a kind of Nirvana parody, although I don’t hear it as well as other band parodies.  It’s certainly a grunge song and, as such it works.  But it was “The Alternative Polka” that proved to be my favorite of his medleys so far.  “Loser,” “Sex Type Thing” “All I Wanna Do” “Closer” (hearing him do Nine Inch Nails is hilarious–especially this song!), “Bang Bang Blame” (so much R.E.M. lately), “You Oughta Know,” “Bullet with Butterfly Wings” (Weezer’s song was supposed to be included here but they asked it to be removed and he did at the last minute–see the video below).  “I’ll Stick Around,” “Black Hole Sun” and “Basket Case”–a great mix of songs that I loved at the time and still do, this song is like reliving the mid 90s.

“Since You’ve Been Gone” is a fun a capella band version of a funny break up song.  He gets better and better at this kind of lyric (“a red hot cactus up my nose” is particularly wonderful).  “Gump” is a very funny parody of “Lump” by Presidents of the United States of America.  Evidently they liked his parody so much they used some of his lyrics in the final verse when they played it live.

“Sick of You” has a fun bass line (reminiscent of Elvis Costello) and a great chorus.  And “Syndicated, Inc.” is a very funny parody of that overplayed Soul Asylum song “Misery.”  It’s a very funny song about syndicated TV shows.  “I Remember Larry” is a pretty funny original about a prankster, although it’s the weakest song on the album.  “Phony Calls” is a parody of TLC’s “Waterfalls” and it’s pretty funny (especially hearing Al do TLC vocals).  The parody works pretty well, and it’s certainly helped by the sample of Bart and Moe on the Simpsons.  “The Night Santa Went Crazy” is a pretty funny twisted take on Santa.

This album is definitely one of his best.  Just about every song is a winner.  And it’s his best-selling album too.

[READ: February 22, 2013] Captain Underpants and the Revolting Revenge of the Radioactive Robo-Boxers

Clark was pretty excited when this book came out.  He had just finished up book #7 or 8 when the book was published.  And so it didn’t take too long for him to get caught up with the series.  I was also pretty lucky to have just finished book nine so this “last” book (although not really) was very well timed.

When we left off in Book Nine, Tippy Tinkletrousers had inadvertently destroyed the earth and the giant zombie George and Harold were stomping through the town.  And, shockingly, they had just crushed Tippy in his robo-pants.   But as this book opens, Pilkey gives us the truth about zombies.  They are really slow.  So slow that Tippy was able to get out of the way of the giant foot (and do lots of other things) and put a giant ketchup packet under the foot so it got squished instead of him.

The rest of the book is simply chock full of time travel, overlapping people and all kinds of paradoxes.  I have to wonder if Clark got it, but he just read it again and he did seem to have decent understanding of what happened. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BILLY BRAGG-Live at the Newport Folk Festival (2009).

Billy Bragg is one of the great holdouts of aggressive political liberalism in music.  For every “American Idiot” that young bands play, Billy can whip out “There is Power in a Union” or the more prescient, “No Power without Accountability.”  Lyrics:

IMF, WTO,
I hear these words just every place I go
Who are these people? Who elected them?
And how do I replace them with some of my friends?

He’s an old school American folkie, despite the fact that he is so outrageously British that his singing accent is stronger than most British folks’ speaking voices.

But he’s not all politics (well, yes he is, but sometimes he disguises it).  Like on his minor hit “Sexuality.”  With some of the first gay positive lyrics I can remember hearing on the radio: “I’ve had relations with girls from many nations/I’ve made passes at women of all classes/And just because you’re gay I won’t turn you away/If you stick around I’m sure that we can find some common ground.”

Billy’s set is pretty great.  He plays the electric guitar for most of it (with an amusing moment where he switches to the acoustic guitar and references Dylan), and really, he needs no accompaniment.  He plays several of his own songs as well as a number of Woody Guthrie songs (both ones that Guthrie recorded and ones that Bragg and friends recorded for the Mermaid Avenue project).

Bragg also talks.  A lot.  His stage banter is as funny as it is impassioned.  And he urges people not to give in to cynicism about their newly elected President (the task is too great for him to please everyone).   Sometimes he comes across as really inspirational and other times as simply idealistic.

The only part of the show that I don’t really like is the “cover” of “One Love.”  I don’t particularly like the song to begin with and this version is 6 minutes long.  True, he modifies the lyric, but the basics are  the same.  Aside from that it’s a pretty rousing set (even if the DJs interrupt him about 40 minutes in, apparently thinking he was going to be end).

[READ: August 1, 2011] Zeitoun

I loved A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.  And I liked You Shall Know Our Velocity quite a bit too (and I just found out that YSKOV was rereleased as Sacrament with an extra 45 page section from Hand’s point of view–and that apparently there is only one copy available anywhere in the world and it costs $250!).

Anyhow, It was through Eggers that I found McSweeney’s (and its vast empire).  And yet during that time, I sort of gave up on reading Eggers’ published works.  When Zeitoun came out, I wasn’t all that interested to read it.  Mostly because I knew the book was about Hurricane Katrina, and I didn’t think I could handle a book about such a tragedy.

But recently, several people in book clubs had mentioned how good (and quick) of a read it was.  So I decided to give it a read.  And I’m really glad I did.

The book is about Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a Syrian born American.  He was living in New Orleans and was the owner of a very successful remodelling business (as well as the landlord of several properties around New Orleans).  Zeitoun is a hard-working, exceptionally conscientious man (the flashback to him running to work, carrying his broken bicycle on his back is as inspirational as it is amusing).  He rarely takes a vacation (much to his family’s chagrin) and oftentimes his wife has taken their kids on a vacation without him.  (One time they dragged into the car with his bags already in it without telling him they were going away for a weeklong vacation). (more…)

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