Archive for the ‘Albert Einstein’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: YASSER TEJEDA & PALOTRÉ-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert Meets SXSW #188 (April 6, 2021).

Every year, NPR Music participates in the SXSW music festival, whether it’s curating a stage or simply attending hundreds of shows at the annual event in Austin, Texas. Last year, the festival was canceled due to the pandemic, but it returned this March as an online festival. We programmed a ‘stage’ of Tiny Desk (home) concerts and presented them on the final day of the festival. Now, we present to you Tiny Desk Meets SXSW: four videos filmed in various locations, all of them full of surprises.

Yasser Tejeda, a New York-based guitarist from the Dominican Republic, started his musical career on the Dominican cuatro (a folkloric guitar-like instrument) and has incorporated guitar stylings that have made him a “go-to guy” for Dominican artists looking for passionate elegance in their sound.

They play three songs in fifteen minutes.  And as with much music from this part of the world, the drums (Victor Otoniel Vargas) and percussion (Jonathan “Jblak” Troncoso) are unstoppable.

Yasser Tejeda and his band Palotré begin their set behind a home desk with “Amor Arrayano,” weaving a vaguely Caribbean feel with a killer R&B hook.

“Amor Arrayano” is a smooth love song gently echoing guitars and a smooth grooving bass.

After a brief introduction of his bandmates Tejeda launches into “La Culebra,” the track that caught my attention from their album Kijombo. Palotré is a powerful groove machine behind Tejeda’s virtuosic guitar playing and his playful dance moves.

“La Culebra” (The Snake) opens with percussive rattlesnake sounds from “Jblak.”   Kyle Miles plays a bouncy bass while Tejeda plays a cool virtuosic lead.  This (mostly) instrumental rocks on in various tempos for the duration of the song.

Tejeda has stated one of the goals of this project is to explore the crossroads between Afro-Dominican musical traditions with anything else that pops onto their radar. Their final song here,”Nuestras Raices,” [Our Roots] has become one of my favorites because I hear the essence of Africa mixed with jazz and maybe a hint of heavy metal, as Tejeda steps on his distortion pedal to kick the band into overdrive with guest tenor saxophonist Mario Castro in tow.

“Nuestras Raices,” opens with a ton of drums and Castro playing the intro melody on the sax.  The songs shifts gears to a quiet verse and then Tejeda stomps the distortion pedal for a brief foray into ripping guitar before pulling back for another quiet verse.  After some faster sections, the song slows down to a kind of moshing feel with all kinds of wild time changes, jazzy sax and heavy metal chords.

It’s pretty fantastic.

[READ: March 30, 2021] Charlie Thorne and the Lost Island

This is the first book in the Charlie Thorne series. I read the second one last month.  I don’t like to read things out of sequence, but it didn’t really impact this story all that much.  The only thing that I “knew” was that Charlie escaped at the end of the story.  But that’s pretty obvious since there was a second book.

This book was also good for some of the background information I was seeking.  Although, it turns out that Gibbs didn’t include a ton of background info on Charlie.  We learn just enough to understand how she is the way she is without getting bogged own in details.

The story starts with a Prologue set in Princeton, NJ in 1955.  It’s the evening of Einstein’s death and after being given some (unwanted) painkillers, he starts muttering something.  By the end of the night the secret service are all over his small house trying to uncover whatever it was he muttered (in German) about.

The book properly starts at CIA Headquarters as Dante Garcia is heading a team.  He is insisting that they call in the help of Charlie Thorne, a super-smart 12-year old girl with a potential criminal past.  His boss is skeptical but trusts Dante, so she agrees.  he also says he wants to work with Milana Moon, one of the best agents in the force.

Cut to a ski slope in Colorado where we are introduced to Charlie and her amazing mathematical mind.  She is able to picture the angles and speed she needs to conquer Deadman’s Drop.

The way she does it is pretty cool and it also sets up the first exciting chase.  She recognizes Dante and his partner as agents.  She doesn’t know why they are here but she knows she needs to evade them.  This leads to the first of many exciting chase scenes. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: NONAME-Tiny Desk Concert #609 (April 3, 2017).

Noname (born Fatimah Warner) is a wrapper and crooner.  her voice is pretty and her demeanor is infectiously upbeat.  Although I don’t really love her songs, I find her attitude infectious.

The blurb says

It’s in the way she’s able to muster a smile while performing a heartbreaking tale of abortion. It’s those sometimes bleak, melancholy lyrics over brilliant, colorful production.

“Diddy Bop” is a strange mix of gentle music (delicate guitar lines from Brian Sanborn meld with synthesized flutes) and rather vulgar lines:  There’s a line “you about to get your ass beat” and lots of “my niggas” thrown around.  Phoelix (bass) sings a verse as well.  The song is only two minutes long.

After it she says she has watched many Tiny Desk Concerts and she “Just wants to be as good as T-Pain.”

The second song is actually a medley.  It begins with “Reality Check” and then segues into “Casket Pretty,” and “Bye Bye Baby.”

She says “Reality Check” is her most straightforward song, but “it would be shitty if you were like ‘damn that made no sense either.'”  I normally speak “in like, scramble-think, so hopefully you guys follow it.” “Scramble-think” refers to the clever metaphors she weaves in detailing the many ways she’s dodged destiny.

Akenya Seymour (keys, vox) takes a verse in this song and Phoelix gets some backing vocals.

“Casket Pretty” is quite an evocative expression but she repeats the lyric an awful lot during the song.  The drums by Connor Baker are interesting throughout the set, but especially in this song.

She says that “Yesterday” is her favorite song on the tape.  It’s the first song she made.  It’s vulnerable and honest and she was surprised how much people liked it so she decided she had more sadness and vulnerability for her album.

[READ: January 20, 2017] “Constructed Worlds”

I enjoyed this story very much.  It is the story of a girl who is off to Harvard.  The story is set in the early 1990s–in the time of Discman and the beginning of e-mail.  It even opens with the fascinating line:

I didn’t know what e-mail was until I got to college. I had heard of e-mail, and knew that in some sense I would “have” it. “You’ll be so fancy,” said my mother’s sister, who had married a computer scientist, “sending your e-mails.”

The girl, Selin, has been hearing all about the World Wide Web from her father. He described that he was in the Met and one second later he was in Anitkabir in Ankara. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: December 10, 2016] Doktor Kaboom! The Science of Santa

kaboomWe loved Doktor Kaboom! when we saw him last (which I didn’t even realize was less than a year ago).  His last show, Live Wire, mixed comedy, science and a hearty dose of believing in yourself.

And so did this one.  Indeed, this show wasn’t radically different from the previous one except that it was all about the magic of Santa Claus.  For as Doktor Kaboom! states: magic is simply science we can’t explain yet.  And in case you are worried about any Santa spoilers, the tagline reads: No iconic Holiday figures were harmed in the making of this show.

For background, the K in Doktor isn’t a zany spelling (thank goodness), it is because the good Doktor is German!  And when he asks you if you understand, you must shout JA!, not yeah or yuh or okay, but JA!

And he likes things to go Kaboom!  Ja?  JA! (more…)

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genius SOUNDTRACK: SAM BEAM AND JESCA HOOP-Tiny Desk Concert #538 (June 6, 2016).

beamhoopI sampled the Sam Beam and Jesca Hoop CD online and really liked it, so I bought it for Sarah for her birthday.  The whole album is really beautiful and I was delighted to see that they performed a Tiny Desk Concert.

Sam Beam is the man behind Iron and Wine.  He has an incredibly long beard.  Jesca Hoop is a solo performer with a few albums out (although I hadn’t heard of her before).  She looks adorable in this concert in her Oxford shirt and suspenders–they’re an interesting contrast.  And yet their voices work so nicely together.

They sing three songs from the album with Beam on guitar and both of them singing.

“Sailor to Siren” begins with Beam on lead vocals, but Hoop soon joins him to duet on most of the lyrics.  Their harmonies are so pretty, perhaps in particular because Beam’s voice is also in a high delicate register.

Sam Beam is one of the most personable performers to show up on the Tiny Desk–he seems so kind and gentle with a good sense of humor.  And Hoop complements him well.  He comments about having to sing into the microphone without looking and she jokes, “it’s like when you’re driving with someone and you’re feeding them food but you have to look at the road to make sire they don’t hit anything so you put food in their beard.”  It’s a great visual reference with his large beard and it actually gets him laugh and stop playing for a minute.

“Know the Wild That Wants You” features Hoop on first lead vocals and Beam on backing vocals and then they duet on the next verse.  The harmonies in the chorus are again beautiful.

For the final song, the incredibly catchy “Every Songbird Says,” Beam describes a video that was made for the song.  He says it’s the best video he’s ever had made for him; Jesca jumps in and says it was made for her, which makes him laugh.  He describes it as having babies with raccoon and dog heads wrestling and licking each other.

On this song Jesca’s vocals are breathier and quite different–they work wonderfully and are a fine contrast to the high notes she (and he) hit in the chorus.

This is a great representation of the album which is similarly sparse (although it does have some extra flourishes here and there).  Their voices sound just as great as on the record.

[READ: March 1, 2016] Genius

The cover of this book shows a man facing the giant but fuzzy image of Albert Einstein.  And it proves an apt image.

The story is about a man who says he was always pretty smart.  He skipped ahead two grades in school.  Although puberty was a bitch for him, it didn’t do him any real harm.  He married and had two kids.  And he now has a job at Pasadena Technical Institute.  He was brought in as a young ringer with great ideas.  But as he has been there for a while, the ideas have just stopped coming and he sees the new young people starting to overtake him–which might mean the loss of his position.

The story flips back and forth between his worklife–unsatisfying–and his home life–confusing.  His son is old enough (14) to be interested in sex.  But he has a heart to heart with him and says they can talk about anything–it seems to work. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: MAC LETHAL-“You’re vs. Your” (2012).

Mac Lethal is a YouTube sensation (he did the pancakes video that I liked quite a bit).  And, yes, he does actually have albums for sale.  He raps really fast (so fast that I wondered if it was sped up–I don’t believe so).  I am 100% behind the sentiment of this song (possessive vs contractions, this is something you used to know).

I’m a grammar freak, so it bothers me when I see these common mistakes made.  It’s nice to hear a song about it (even if it’s not a terribly catchy song or anything).

I like his name dropping and his lecture is pretty effective.  I’m a little confused by the big dick reference/joke at the end of the song…it’s not really relevant.  But his fast tongue is really impressive.  As for his singing….mmm, stick to rapping.

I like the T-shirt!

[READ: May 15, 2012] Science News Letter

I’ve mentioned before when my company sends out links to articles that are interesting or cool.  This is the second time a link to a Science News Letter has gone out.  I swear if I had time, I would love to read all of these.  I wonder how often it was published?

This letter has only two articles in it–one from Physics and one from Archaeology.

The Archaeology one is called “Find Sacred Kitten in Bronze Cat Coffin.”  And indeed, two metallurgy experts were cleaning a bronze cat (which had “bronze disease”) and inside of it they found the bones of a fetal cat.  This was one of the first times that actual bones were discovered in one of these cat idols.  There’s even a (kind of creepy) picture of the bronze statue with the far creepier caption: Cat Coffin.

The Physics article is headlined: Fifth Dimension is New Realm Entered by Professor Einstein”  What?  How cool is that… “Professor Einstein!”  Einstein died in 1955, so it’s not weird that he’d be in a Science Letter.  But still!  Einstein talking about his current theories?!  The subtitle is “Celebrating Sixtieth Birthday, Scientist Wants New Dimension To Account for Electro-Magnetic Effects.” (more…)

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