Monday, November 29, 2010

Black Monday

A day off from work
To catch up on the housework.
It’s all about work.

One full day at work
Before we leave once again.
Jet-setting lifestyle.

Pack the kids in tight
Miss an exit, stop to nurse
Princeton, here we are!

The in-laws are great
But the highlight of each trip
Is our date alone.

Back at one thirty
How could I tear them away?
They are all so sad.

Have I failed to note
That my “tired gland” has grown
Ten sizes too big?

The boy needs a stand
For his snare. Found one cheap at
The pawn shop. WHOO HOO!

It’s been quite hectic
So much so that I forgot
Today is Wednesday.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

October Seems Like Just Last Month

One is in high school
So that makes me a geezer
Or so I am told.

With each new password
I have to forget one thing.
Was it your birthday?

We have an old fish.
It is older than the kids
And just will not die.

My foot, it still hurts
But if I see a doctor
It will stop that day.

My note for today
Simply says to write of gold
What was I thinking?

In my working space
I traded a throat clearing
For a bottle squeak.

It’s all about maps
For our pending vacation
I bet I get lost.

Leaving tomorrow
With the best wife in the world
Sitting by my side.

Ann Arbor was packed
But the museum was nice
And the pool was warm.

We like the fruit store
And Deerfield and Ikea
A day for the books!

Bronners was plain huge
What’s the deal with Frankenmuth?
We are not shoppers.

It was quite sunny
And the beach in October
Was all but empty.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Super Blasty

I think I’ve finally hit a milestone in my never ending quest to find the genesis of my musical inclinations – that is, why so I like the music that I like. This still doesn’t answer the “chicken or egg” question of if I was drawn to this music because of my chromosomes or if my personal tastes were formed by hours of listening so that years later when I heard music that was similar I found it comforting and likeable. I know that my love of movies, and particularly monster movies, is from trying to get close to my dad. My few memories of doing things with him as a child involved him taking us kids to the drive in or to see Star Wars or getting to stay up late and see twenty minutes of some scary movie he was watching on TV. But this here post isn’t about my failure to make the all-important identification transition to my father as a young child… it’s about MUSIC!

My connection with this un-named seminal album probably happened around age five or six. Before that there was Sesame Street albums and read-along “turn the page when you hear the ding” records but as best as I can recall this was my first foray into the music of grownups.

And what a foray! The album is the 1971 cast recording of Jesus Christ Superstar. Before I get into the music itself I’d like to digress into a few comments on the lyrics. Back when I became a Christian nearly a quarter century ago I remember listening to the album again and having a few problems with it (mostly the “Always hoped that I’d be an apostle” bit) and the lack of the resurrection but overall thought it was benign. I now see how this album can be terribly damaging and misleading to someone who has no knowledge of the Gospels. The biggest issue is that Jesus is presented as a self-aggrandizing, whiney, lime-light seeking, doubter. Though I have no doubt that His heart was pounding in his chest as He prayed that dark night He ultimately laid down His will. Plus is doubting a sin? Well, it’s not trusting (faith) in our Father and I don’t think anyone would say that Jesus didn’t have faith. ‘Nuff said.

On to the music! First of all it is a large format piece with repeating themes, setting up my lifelong “tolerance” for music longer than three minutes. It also blends a full orchestra with a heavy rock band which maps easily to my current enjoyment of classical and hard rock plus my love of orchestral/symphonic rock. The music is also heavily dramatic which, though not a top requirement for my tastes, is something I enjoy in moderation. On top of all this is the fact that the music is exceedingly melodic, something which IS a requirement if an album is going to get much play into my eager ears.

Also of interesting note, and something I hadn’t noticed before, is that the music is quite adventurous and progressive. A number of songs venture outside of standard 4/4 time and/or jump stylistically all over the place from measure to measure, leaping from mischievous to spooky to energetic to enthusiastic. These days I’m a sucker for melodic heavy progressive rock with orchestral touches and rather enjoy it when a song screeches to a halt and takes off in an unexpected direction. Déjà vu.

The playful nature of JCS seems to almost have been ripped off of Prokofiev, a personal favorite. In some cases it seemed like the very arrangements were lifted from the cannon of Prokofiev. The piece named The Crucifixion is a very modern sound pastiche of very different parts playing simultaneously in the mode of Charles Ives, another favorite.

Having heard the album for the first time in two decades is quite enough. It’s time now to listen to vintage Sesame Street!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Review from the Archives - The Terrordactyls

I haven't listened to his album much in the since two or three years ago when I wrote this review. Perhaps I should for I remember it fondly.

Imagine if as a very young boy Da Vinci was given blunt-tipped scissors, construction paper, glitter, pipe cleaners and gobs of paste. The result would likely hint at the genius of things to come while basking in the simplicity and innocence of childhood. Such is the music of The Terrordactyls and their debut self-titled album.

Listening to this album gives you the impression of being allowed to join in with old friends as they sit around and play cherished songs from their past, not unlike listening to albums by Ed’s Redeeming Qualities. Hollow acoustic guitars, toy pianos, invigorating two part vocal harmonies and enchanting two part kazoo harmonies all come together to form instant childhood memories overflowing with joy and melancholy.

“Zombie Girl” finds them opining over “the awesomist girl in my school” with whistling, kazoos, and a smattering of French, making the brief two minute song sheer perfection of irony with English lyrics such as “You have no nose / But that’s okay / You can hide treasures / Inside your brain.” “Facelift” is another weird sad tale of a girl with no face, plus robots and Black & Decker power tools. Instantly appealing with amazing vocal harmonies and a brief electric guitar solo this song packs a massive punch in 1:34, similar to the kind of friendly yet twisted humor They Might Be Giants used to exhibit. You’ve never heard a better toy piano solo than in “Decoration Daniel” where impressive lyrics such as “He’ll decorate the zit / On your pretty face” and “You’re the magic in his marker” are backed with a breezy melody, simple strummed guitar, and crisp hand claps. The band duets with Kimya Dawson on “Devices”, a charming duet of rushed lyrics and kazoos, a song so sweet that when you hear “You and I are meant for each other” you believe it. Incidentally this song was included on the soundtrack for the indie hit Juno and it succinctly captures the relationship of the two young leads. While nearly all of the fourteen songs are memorable, one final zinger is “Fall” where a sugary melody is offset by lyrics such as “Shoot me in the face / I’ll shoot you in the face / See which one of us / Can shoot the other in the most accurate place.” It gets more macabre from there but it’s such a happy, silly song that you can’t help singing along.

A cousin to bands like Danielson Famile, the focus is on songwriting and feel instead of studio perfection. The Terrordactyls sounds like it was recorded in a bedroom and this intimacy and lo-fi nature is part of its appeal. The Nuevo-folksy songs are filled with clever wordplay and the giddy feeling of summer vacation. Rediscover a new old friend.

September Is In The Can

It took but six years
But I finally blew up
At a bumbling peer.

She twitterpates me
With her laugh and her loving
And her fine figure.

It’s a chipmunk, yes?
And yet it avoids my traps.
Get out of my floor.

No Huntington trip
This weekend we shall stay home.
Pioneer burnout.

It took a full month
But my garage is now dry
Small retaining wall.

Christmas is coming
And I have yet to pick out
A song for my wife.

The night was just right
Not too warm or not too cold
Cuddles till we slept.

Have you ever stood
And just looked at the night sky?
I saw a space ship.

I love distortion
For it covers up my lack
Of precise technique.