Archive for Music

Art Takes Many Forms: The Whimsical Patchwork Music of Pogo

Gotta love a good digital musician, right? Nick Bertke has produced some intriguing mixes with an otherworldly free-spirited feel and fast rhythm. I know that trance music is not for everyone, but people like Bertke definitely demonstrate the veracity and capabilities of the medium (even for people who aren’t baked out of their brains in a nightclub). I think I could work out to this.

Before there was Lana Del Rey

There was Julie London. We had a record of hers in our home that I used to play. Just a cello (maybe it was a bass) and her singing. It was quite beautiful. I sometimes play this on Sunday mornings:

Bacon Bowl with a Baked Egg (and me, being the picture of fortitude during a trial)

bacon bowl with baked egg

I am preparing to fast for several hours before I go in to the hospital tomorrow and have a test done. Apparently, my lungs have decided not to participate in life, and in response I will be having a gigantic robot arm of death shoved up my nose and into my lungs, where it will tear a chunk of my lung-flesh out so the hospital folks can do lab stuff to it, leaving me a tattered, bleeding stump of humanity, but probably better off for the procedure. I’m being pretty brave about it, considering how badly the torment will surely be, but the fasting part really doesn’t appeal to me. It’s going to be like seven hours between meals. I decided to fortify myself with a batch of lemon bars and some bacon.

So, bacon bowls with a baked egg. You take three strips of bacon, cut them in half, weave them into square, and place them in the freezer on a small piece of tinfoil. Leave them for like half an hour so they are not frozen, but firm enough to mold into a bowl shape inside the tinfoil. (I like to wrap a second piece of tinfoil around them after that so the bacon grease doesn’t slosh out into the oven.) Bake them at 375 for about thirty minutes, then carefully pour the grease out, put an egg into the bowl and return it to the oven for another thirty minutes. Sprinkle a little oregano on top and eat. I should make a set of images to go with this. Maybe a post for later.

Django Django’s WOR

Here’s a song by Django Django with an intriguing video of the Indian Death Well riders. I think the song works well with the video footage and the notion of facing death simpy because it is your job. The men have such an interesting perspective on risk, don’t they? I’m not a hero, there is an element of danger in everything…

Happy Monday! Go do something risky and big today.

Right and Wrong Don’t Matter in the Woods

My brother and I were talking about the background of the area where he lives, and he mentioned a phenomenon about the language. There are certain words that his neighbors do not have, which is nothing noteworthy, as no two languages are going to have identical vocabularies, except that some of the words he listed frankly amazed me. Logic, mindset, proportion, eternity, infinite, science… the two that were most surprising to me were right and wrong.

Imagine a society with no word for “wrong.” How does that even happen? There is a right way to put shoes on, and a wrong way to hold a baby, and so on. It seems only natural that sooner or later, a person will encounter someone else who is doing something in way that is just clearly not correct:

that is right2

that is wrong

My brother said there are words for “beautiful” and “ugly,” which lead me to wonder if those are the go-to labels people would apply to correctness and incorrectness.

that is beautiful

that is ugly

If they do that, maybe judgey people who go around telling others how to raise their kids look like they’re calling each other’s children ugly.

Anyhow, if they don’t have words for the phrase “You are doing that all wrong!” one has to think that they don’t need that phrase very much. Does their vocabulary indicate that their culture is less judgmental or discerning? A possible contributing factor to this is the tendency for people to borrow words from surrounding languages until their native vocabulary has thinned, but I can’t help thinking that the personality of the individuals using the words has a stronger hand in defining the common vocabulary.

The title of this post is a line from Sondheim’s Into the Woods, which I probably talk about too much. The woods are a metaphor for people’s struggles, often surfacing their true character as they journey in and out of them throughout the story. I embedded a clip below of the baker’s wife and Cinderella’s prince meeting in the woods, because of that phrase: “Right and Wrong don’t matter in the woods, only feelings…”

If I were taking my sociology from Stephen Sondheim, I would say that he has an explanation for people allowing those words to go by the wayside, and it’s a matter of not considering them a big enough priority when trouble arises.

Another part of me is thinking it must have something to do with blended languages or something, though. I just can’t wrap my mind around a society that simply has no term for “wrong.” How different would our culture have to be if we never made or used such words?

Maybe we would have been better without some of them. I can think of a few words now that I would like to trim out of our collective use: money, schedule… What do you think?

Lindsey Stirling

Violinist/dancer/real-life-cartoon character Lindsey Stirling has just completed a lengthy and successful tour, and is now preparing for a re-release of her debut album. Good for her; being on a talent show may have given her a good start and publicity, but competition tv really doesn’t seem like a worthy venue for a creative performer who can make it big in her own right.

You can check out her website by clicking here.

Steam Powered Giraffe and related stuff

Steam Powered Giraffe is a musical theater band from California. They are pretty popular with the Steampunk set, and somehow somehow, they escaped my attention until last week. Steampunk giraffe band. This is why I love the internet.

There were originally four members, costumed up as Steampunk humanoid robots, and after some amount of shuffle I think there are about seven of them in the troupe now. Their act is a combination of music and comedy with a Jules Verne animatronic edge, and although they don’t do pop music, they did produce the little gem below which you really need to watch. Really, trust me- ignore whatever the title is making you think and watch it:

Steampunk robot giraffe puppet. That is a music video starring a steampunk robot giraffe puppet. Yes indeed.

On the topic, here are my latest paper dolls. They’re from Dover publications, drawn by Ramona Szozerba. I’ve mentioned this before, but I really like Dover books, and I own a lot of their paper dolls. This set may be my favorite one yet, although Georgie Giraffe was pretty awesome.

Even those of you who are not into steampunk can appreciate the details and the creator’s sense of humor. Of course the set includes an airship captain and a Victorian pirate, but we also have a phrenologist, a lepidopterist, and a super villain with an evil-o-meter in his hat!

sp cinderella

Four dolls come in the set, along with 18 different outfits, many of which include an animal companion. Each outfit/scenario includes several useful accessories, like Steampunk Cinderella’s Enchanted Pumpkin Air/Land Conveyance.

sp super villain

There are also plenty of clear instructions and descriptions for the accessories, so you always will know exactly which pieces of equipment to activate as the character needs it.

sp xandria and thaddeus dolls

You can buy the set at the Dover Publications website, and just to sweeten the deal a little more, there is another set of bonus outfits there for you if you do. How cool is that?

Finally, unrelated but sort of related as it is a Steampunk-themed toylike thing that I recently bought and love, Gamewright’s Forbidden Desert:

forbidden desert

Most games that offer an everyone-wins conclusion don’t appeal to me, but this one handles that well. The dynamic of everyone sharing cards adds the (unintended) benefit that you can play it alone, if you wanted. As it was designed, 2-5 players try to escape a desert storm by constructing an ancient solar-powered aircraft. It was made as a sequel to Forbidden Island which I haven’t played; I picked it up because the artwork was so striking. GAMEWRIGHT-forbidden desert

The game description looked cool, so we bought it, and as a cooperative play game requiring skill and planning, we love it. Check out the trailer they made for it below.

Just so you know, no one paid me or asked me to review stuff. I bought these things cuz I liked them, and I encourage you to do so as well, because I still like them (and hope you will too). But I’m not going to receive a commision or anything from you clicking those links.

Things that are just plain horrible

I’m so grossed out by this. Disney, you’ve done it again.

into the woods 2

Playbill announced yesterday that a 10-year-old bundle of youtubey stardom has been slated for Little Red Riding hood in the upcoming movie adaptation of Into the Woods.

sophia-grace-brownlee-54th-annual-grammy-awards-01

This happens to be one of my favorite Broadway plays. Literate Libran introduced it to me as one of her favorites too- the dual parts of Cinderella and the Witch have always resonated so powerfully with her. For me the strongest message is the underlying indictment on group dynamics in troubled times. Click either of those to read our thoughts about it. Much has been said about this, and I could easily go on about it much more, so naturally I wasn’t too excited when I heard it was headed for movie theaters, but whatever. They snagged Meryl Streep for the lead, and that’s usually a good sign, right? But this?

A kid sings on Youtube, gets asked to show up on a TV show, subsequently makes miscellaneous talk show appearances… and… those are her acting credentials. This child is 10. The role of Little Red Riding Hood is a coming of age story, with a very overt message about carelessly sacrificing her innocence when a predatorial “wolf” crosses her path. This child is 10. A ten year old who still shows up at every public appearance in a princess costume is supposed to portray a layered, complex balance of fairy tale playfulness and the sadder but wiser embarrassed confidence of a young woman newly smarting from the regrets of a bad relationship.

Check out Danielle Ferland below from the OBC:

“Nice is different than good.” Pretty clever, no?

I thought about also including a clip of Sophia’s breakthrough appearance on Ellen, but she’s singing a song with illicit lyrics about having sex, and in case you’ve forgotten, this child is 10 (actually, she was 8 when that was done) and I think the world will be a better place with fewer blogs posting videos of little children belting out smutty rap lyrics.

Folks, really, how is this not the epitome of exploitation? The pink dresses, ever present to remind us how tiny she is? Have I mentioned she’s 10? Never mind that normal 10 year old girls don’t go trooping around in sparkly plastic crowns, she’s got the cutie-pie image to foster. Never mind how completely unfit she may be amongst her peers; as long as it’s garnering TV spots, why not keep it up? On the same token, I’ve never overheard a fifth grade girl mournfully lament her adolescent choices (because, of course, fifth graders haven’t experienced adolescence yet). A friend of mine commented that it’s a bit discouraging to see how this type of thing is pushed on children at younger and younger ages, but really, however informed a kid may be about the facts of life, ten means she’s still got her teen years ahead of her. Adolescence hasn’t even started yet, and therefore she has not yet earned the right to reminisce about it.

I could ask what kind of lousy parent would pretend like this is good for their child, but the subject of the fame-obsessed parent pimp has been discussed to death, and we all know it’s vile. Can we maybe just start having stagemom of the year awards?

toilet trophy

We could call it the “Don’t go in there” Award (little Office joke there). That’s actually pretty apropos.

I could also ask why the movie itself was necessary at all, but that’s something we all know too, right?

mickey the vandal

Although their original ideas are often fun and watchable enough, those are just the revolving door prime-time stuff. Disney feature films are most often hijacked pieces that the public has already grown to appreciate. I’ve learned by now to just avoid the ones about stories I like unless I want to have the original tainted (I’ll never forgive them for the butchering they gave the Hunchback of Notre Dame), and this will certainly be one to avoid.

I just feel sick and sorry for the child who is so obviously being herded into the child-star-who-does-scandalous-things act, especially considering that she’s got that along with the preschool-dress-up-princess image to maintain. This is one seriously messed up situation.

Update:
YAAAAY! But I still don’t want to watch the movie.

A Dichotomy of Mermaids

Hans Christian Anderson told this story about a young maiden in love with a hansome prince. She determines to have him at all costs, forsaking family and all that is familiar to her, propelled by infatuation into the all-too-common assumption that if she has the right physical appearance she will win him over. Conspicuously enough, she has never spoken with him, and therefore thinks nothing of bargaining away her voice for a pair of feet so she can go after him, which in the classic story, cause her terrible pain whenever she walks. That’s where the modern Disney interpretation starts to make its departure- HCA makes it a point that she suffers pain for her new look, which turns out to be a wasted sacrifice. She’s no different to lover boy than all the other girls around him, except for her hopeless inability to contribute to the conversation and he flutters off after some other girl. After his wedding, her sisters bring her a knife. They inform her that if she kills him and his new wife, she can return to the sea and become a mermaid again. Get it? Kill off the fantasy, and go back to your roots. But she can’t; she approaches him with the knife, and runs off to fall into the sea, dissipating into foam. Thus ends the little mermaid princess. She lost the man she wanted, because she never understood him and hoped that she could get by on looks. After she failed, she wouldn’t give him up and her life dissolved into nothingness.

It’s a horrific cautionary tale to young girls everywhere. Looking good isn’t enough to keep a relationship alive, living a fantasy will never allow you to be fulfilled as an individual… the morals are numerous and obvious.

Contrast that unfortunate creature with her modern counterpart:

ariel shopping

When the Disney movie hit theaters, I adored it. I filled countless notebooks and homework papers with mermaid drawings, and practiced swimming like a mermaid (hair tossing upon breaking the surface was a must). I was aware that the story glorified selfish behavior, but it was pretty enough that pretty beat out irresponsible (and it was JUST a MOVIE). As an adult, I find myself kinda sorta battling with that in my classroom. I love the toys and books and my kids like them too, but I see much nastier messages in the story that I didn’t pick up as a child. This character puts everyone around her at risk so that she can have what she wants. She decides she loves someone although she knows nothing about him. As it happens, he is a mindless hunk-o-matic who, like any good prince, exists only to be dashing and to fall in love, but after she creates the entire relationship without any effort from him, and after she sacrifices the well-being and emotional peace of her family, and after she has gotten herself into such enormous trouble that an entire kingdom is now in danger, he suddenly becomes a participant in the story and whoops up the villain before going back to mindlessly adoring her. In the end, her father sadly admits that she was right all along, and she gets an awesome fantasy wedding complete with paternal blessing and rainbow. Yaaay! Seriously, is that anything like reality?

Am I being ridiculous?

I find it ironic that the message is the polar opposite of the original story, but is it really that bad? I’m a little bit serious about that- Ariel is super bratty and she never has to pay for her outrageous treatment of everyone around her, so should we be warning our little girls against her, or can we just be okay with a person getting away with brattiness?

You Can’t Stop Me from Loving You

The world lost a brilliant talent when Richie Havens passed.

My friend wrote a short eulogy for him which I share here:

In honor of Richie Havens’ life, I say Bravo. You crossed the lines against injustices and opened many eyes to them. Your music has a soul of its own and definitely worked towards bettering the world. You will remain in this fan’s mind and heart. Again I say Bravo.

richie quote

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