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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Cemetery Junction

I am just now finishing a film that I discovered on Netflix streaming. It was written and directed by the talented duo Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant the team behind the rightfully celebrated BBC's 'The Office'. I am stunned that I had never heard of this film before and am wondering why it didn't get released in the USA. I LOVE THIS FILM.

Often, when I really like a film, there is a sense of sadness when it ends because much like a good book I do not want it to be over. This is that film for me.

I really do not know what to say about it. I think it has nearly a perfect soundtrack and for me when the film and the music work together it is almost a transcendent experience for me. I really do not have much more to say then I would love it if you tracked this film down and watched it. I do not think you will regret it. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Moment of Compassion

This was a rough weekend. There was entirely to much death and entirely too much politicizing of the gun control issue for my taste. What happened was a horrible thing and really extending your condolences to the families involved and expressing your shock and horror at what happened is all that needs to be said. The rest is just you climbing up on your soapbox be it pro or anti gun control and speaking to hear yourself heard. 

I do not need to hear it and I do not think others do either. I love Facebook because it allows me to keep in touch with so many people from all over the world and allows me the ability to dialogue with them on numerous issues. But it feels like increasingly it is becoming a tool for the loudest of us to angrily proclaim our position as a "right-thinking" person. I realize that I am as guilty of this as anyone and in some cases I am probably works then others in my actions. But this is something that I intend to work on. 

So, I plead with you. Can we just take a moment among the increasing volume of rhetoric that is being thrown about as we all try to recover from this horrible event. Can we just take a moment of silence and think about these families and how this holiday season is going to taste like horrible ash in their mouths. Can we take a moment and just try to understand how painful that must feel and also recognize that we hope it never happens to us or anyone that we know. Can we take a moment and realize that all of the yelling about the right to control or to bear arms does these families mourning their dead children and parents not a whit of good at all. Can we take a moment and be compassionate of others for a change. Because as one of my friends pointed out "those kindergardeners didn't die to make anyone's political point."

Friday, December 14, 2012

Friday, Friday

It is Friday and the premier of the Hobbit was last night. I thought about going to see it but then I thought that while it would have been fun to go to the midnight show.  I also didn't think I wanted to stay up until 3 in the morning because it seems that the movie is seriously long. The reviews that I am seeing and reading all sound like it is a good movie but goes on far to long. Now anyone who watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy that Peter Jackson did before knows that he is a little prone to falling in love with his films and they tend to go on far too long.

As I write that I just realized that I had no real reason for writing it. I am just kind of mindlessly typing away to give myself something to do while I sit at the coffee shop and listen to the DnD podcast that I enjoy so much. But I now just realized that my nose is plugged up and I am finding it hard to breath through it. So I am sitting here with my mouth open and totally mouth breathing. I am sure that I look like a colossal mouth breathing nerd right now!

Yaaa for you Lance. What a shining moment for you. Now I am focused on my breathing and literally having to keep my mouth closed and make myself breath through my nose. What an odd feeling. I am never usually so focused on my breathing it is just an automatic function of my body that happens. It is oddly fascinating to be so focused and aware of my breathing. In and Out and In and Out. I can both feel the air flow and hear it as well since my nose is plugged. I do try to meditate but even that I don't think what I do is true Buddhist meditation it is just me doing some deep breathing exercises through my nose because that calms me down and helps me go to sleep easier which I like. Because often once I get ready to go to sleep and turn off the electronic distractions around me, my mind starts to try to process all of the days events or too understand the big questions in life and that is not the best way for me to get too sleep.

and that is all I have to say for today. 

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Sunday, Sunday

I think that there are days that tend to seem a little more gloomy then other days. I am sure that the weather also has something to do with it as well. but, it feel like Sundays are just a little darker and little more gray then other days. It is also possible that I just tend to notice it more on Sundays then I do on the other days, but I honestly do not know what it is. I just know that it has been that way for years for me. I assume it is also possible that Sunday is also the end of the weekend and maybe my mind just always wants to get me ready for Monday. Because Lord know there is nothing worse then a Monday. The thing is, right now, a Monday is like any other day so there is really no reason for me to dread the day. I know it would feel a little different if I was working every Monday through Friday. Though I am not sure that it would make that much of a difference to me all things considered.

That is all. 

Friday, December 07, 2012

Please, allow me to introduce to you...

A band that I just stumbled upon. Their E P has been out since March but I honestly have not heard of them until today and I really really like their sound. They are a synth pop band and their name is Father Tiger. This is what their website says about them.

"FATHER TIGER is a modern indie synthpop duo with a love of vintage analog synthesizers and everything mid-century modern. Having grown up on opposite ends of Los Angeles county, members Greg Delson and John Russell now both reside in Hollywood, where they met in 2005 at audio engineering school.
Often compared to Cut Copy, M83, Holy Ghost!, Hot Chip, Passion Pit, and Robyn, the band’s sound is nonetheless unique. Combining live drums with programmed percussion, layering numerous rare, vintage analog synths and incorporating a vocal arrangement style reminiscent of the Motown era, FATHER TIGER has crafted a thoughtful, vibrant and upbeat sound of its very own"

So, there you go. I do not think they sound like Robyn at all. In fact I think they are probably far better then she is. But too each his own and I am sure that some publicist wrote that for them anyway. All I know is that I really enjoy their music and I want you to give them a listen. I think you will enjoy it. Listening to them is like getting a nice warm hug from an old friend so just relax into their embrace and let yourself be comforted. You will be all the better for it.

I really like that last Christmas song a lot. It just speaks to me on several levels and I like the guy playing Santa's awesome beard. I only hope I can grow one like that. The next couple of videos are of cover songs the band did and I really enjoy them as well.

I hope you enjoy them and do what I did track them down on Amazon and buy the E P. I do not think you will regret it.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Ke$ha 'Warrior"

Well here goes nothing, I am giving the latest Ke$ha album a listen and I am not sure what to say. I need to be upfront and tell you that this is not my typical style of music at all. That isn't to say that I am against pop music, because I am not but I generally speaking do not choose to listen to this style of music if I am left to my own choices. That being said I sat down to listen to her latest album with an open mind. I honestly wanted to give it a fair listen and I believe I did just that.

The bottom line for me as far as this album goes is that I didn't hate it. I don't think it was great or amazing or earth shattering and I didn't think it was the worst album I had ever listened to either. But it just didn't do anything special for me. Their were two songs that actually made me really sit up and listen. One was 'Dirty Love' and it featured Iggy Pop. I will pretty much listen too anything with Iggy Pop in it at least once and I think that Iggy and The Stooges "Raw Power" is an amazing early punk album. So that being said I was a little surprised that he showed up on her album. Now both of these songs are NSFW unless you have some headphones on or work in a place that doesn't care like I used too.

Now if you got through it and are still with me. What did you think of that drum line? Or the guitar riff after that? Does it remind you of anything? It does me but I am unable to pin it down. It isn't that everything has to be totally original but it is nice if there is some originality. I give her points for getting Iggy to join her. But honestly is he even being used in a good way? I don't think so. It wouldn't surprise me if he just called that in using skype and then cashed his paycheck. Not that I would blame him. She probably paid good money.

The other song that got my attention was 'Gold Trans Am' all I can say is that it is the dirtiest Steve Miller song I have ever heard. Just nasty.

I will give some time to recover from that audio onslaught. I have some friends who I know like and listen to Steve Miller so I just hope that they listened and will take the time to let me know what they thought about this little gem. I can't say that I disliked it. It was kind of fun but it isn't something that I would listen to other then for the novelty of it.

So bottom as far as this album goes...if you like this kind of music and you like Ke$ha then this is just more of the same and you are going enjoy it. But as far as anything new or different it isn't and it is very much derivative of Lady Gaga or Katy Perry or any of the hot new lady singers that are heavily auto tuned. Though to be fair. Ke$ha is not as good as Lady Gaga or Katy Perry. I am not putting her down. I think that is just the reality of her as a performer.

Also on a side note, Rolling Stone gave her 3 and 1/2 stars and I can't tell from the review if that is being satirical or what? So for whatever it is worth. I believe that I liked this album less then the Rolling Stone reviewer whose name is Rob Sheffield. 

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Blank Slate

I am writing to you from a place of mental frustration this morning. As I was going to sleep last night, an idea popped into my head. An idea for a story and basic beginning too a story that I thought I would be able to tell without to many problems. I was laying there listening to the story percolate inside my head and I thought I should probably get some of this down in case I forget. But I also felt like I actually needed to sleep and I would be better off if I did that and then picked up the story later. Well as I awoke to a lovely Oregon winter morning I realized that something had escaped me and that was my story. "poof" Just pulled a Keyser Soze and was gone.

But, wait as I began writing this to let you know that all my ideas had vanished, the ideas began  to surface. I could could see them, the words, just swirling below the surface of my mind floating to the top and then sinking. Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah! All is not lost. The world will not be deprived of my wisdom. My intellect will be used to impress others and to make the world a better place for me to live in. What's that you say? "But, Lance, what about other people? Shouldn't you be making the world a better place for them to live in as well?" pssshaw I say. That isn't up to me. I write for myself and to amaze others but making the world a better place? That seems to be a bit beyond my meager abilities as much as I wish I had that kind of power.

Sometimes I do think it would be pretty neat to write that earth shattering piece that shakes the very foundation of all that we believe. But, on the other hand, that sure seems like a lot of work. What about writing something that a few people enjoy and get some value out of and maybe one or two find it a little inspirational as well. That just seems more satisfying to me and if I can make just enough to live on while I am doing that. Then more joy for me. So stay tuned folks. Who knows what might happen.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Musical Legacy

The other day, the AV Club did an article on 21 artists among multiple fields who did some amazing work toward the end of their lives. One of the artists was a man whose music I really enjoy and respect and that was Johnny Cash. They mainly talked about his last two albums both basically recorded during the same set of sessions but the second one "American VI: Ain't No Grave" was released posthumously . Both of these albums are amazing and fair amount of his late in life resurgence is owed to Rick Rubin and you can hear that on the first album he produced American Recordings "CASH" but in these last two albums Rubin stepped out of the way and really it was John and his guitar and the experience is amazing. I believe that these are albums that you should totally sit down and listen to in their entirety. That is the best way to achieve the total experience of these albums and the fact that these songs are coming at the end of his life there is a poignancy to this music that you are not going to get from any other artist.

I think, I should I know that one of the reasons that I like Johnny is because he was a man of transparency. He was who he was and he at least later in life and I think in some way soon after he married June Carter he became a man who was unafraid to expose himself warts and all to the world. He was a man of faith and I think regardless of your position on the existence of God or a higher power you have to respect a man who has faith and who endeavors to live by that code even though his own personal demons make it an extremely hard thing to do. It seemed that most often his songs told those stories and showed his struggles in a clear and transparent manner.

Another thing that I like about his music is that, at least for me, there is a real level of truth to it. So do yourself a favor and check out Spotify. I think anything that you might listen too by Johnny Cash you will enjoy.  I am not an advertiser for the service but as far as being able to track down music for free and give it a listen they have been the best that I have used.

In the end Johnny Cash's music and memory will live forever long after the Biebers and the Chris Browns are a sad footnote in the history of music.

Monday, December 03, 2012

The Songs of My Youth

We had several different cars when I was growing up. There was a Dodge Dart that I do not remember much about at all. But I am told by people who know better then I do, that it was quite a classic car. The car after that which I remember was a 4 door Dodge Diplomat which wasn't anything special. But what stands out to me in my memory is that it had an 8-track player.

Now just in case some of my readers are too young to remember just what that is let me give you a quick introduction. Before I start this website has far more detailed info then I am interested in giving right now.

8-Track Heaven

Okay, hopefully you made it back here.

These existed before cassette tapes and long, long before today's electronic players and mp3's. But what I really remember is that in my parents care we had 4 8-track tapes. There was Henry Mancini's film themes, I believe a greatest hits of some sort by famed pianist Floyd Cramer, The Who's rock opera Tommy, I have no idea why that was there because neither my mother or father listened to rock music, and I can't remember what the fourth one was but it may have been an Hungarian version of Jesus Christ Superstar. My parents had a family friend who was Hungarian. But, that is a whole nother story so too speak. 

Here is a little taste of Floyd Cramer

This song for some reason has always really stuck with me. I think it is because of his use of the ambient rain noises. I am not sure why that is something that I remember so vividly but I totally do. I suspect that it is considered totally cheesy by today's standards but I still enjoy it. As I sit here listening to it while I write, it just makes me feel calm and mellow. 

The orchestra leader Henry Mancini is up next and if you at all know movies and who created some of the most iconic music of some of the biggest films of the 70's and 80's then you know Henry Mancini. I think this number is his most well known at least by a certain generation. 

I could literally fill page after page with his songs from different movies and his music really does resonant with some people. I know my dad was really into it. But he was a piano player and music teacher and he may have taught some orchestra so it kind of makes sense to some degree. 

As far as The Who and Tommy. Well everybody already knows how much I like The Who but for me on this particular 8-Track I can really only remember one song that stood out to me. I remember singing it to myself both in the car and the house on a regular basis and it may explain a little bit why I like what I like in terms of music. 

I still like a good musical to this day and I am pretty sure that it is due in some way to these three 8-tracks and the amount of times that my father played them in the car. I still also have soft spot for film soundtracks as well and own several of them. It kind of goes too show how much music can affect a child. It makes wonder about kids I see at concerts. I wonder what their parents are thinking and how much damage hearing damage those kids have. 

Is there any type or kind of music that you remember listening too as a kid? Was their something musically that stuck with you as you grew up? Let me know.