Modest Mojo Monae

I bought my first Modest Mouse cd on sale at HMV. That was the moon & antartica. I subsequently added Everywhere & his nasty Parlour Tricks, Good News For People Who Love Bad News, We Were Dead Even Before The Ship Sank, No One’s First & You’re Next. All of which I have as stand-alone cds. In a way they are reminiscent of the Byrds with jangly guitars & sweet harmonies. 

Their sound is a mix of emo & indie-rock. Lyrics are wry romantic commentary with a dash of political. Great word play – as the cd titles reflect. Sort of nerdy, sometimes a bit funky & dare I say – often pretty. Songs that show in for sensitive moments in romcoms & crime movies to give them a ‘hip’ echo. I always enjoy these when I hear them but rarely do I get the mood to pull out for listen.

Mojo, which I think is still publishing, is a British pop music magazine that usually had a cd included. Sometime the cd was a collection of recent releases, sometimes it was one they had complied of covers of songs by James Brown, The Who.  This one from 2007 is Sgt. Pepper lp covers by groups such as Simple Rid, Dave Cloud & The Gospel of Power. These the magazine commissioned. I love Sgt. Pepper & the still obscure groups do a great job with these songs & some actually re-invent rather than re-create the originals. 

I kept reading raves about Janelle Monae. I caught a video of one of her songs, then accidentally saw her live on some daytime talk show as I skipping through channels. I like her retro look & was intrigued by the sci-fi subtext of her videos. So I picked up ArchAndroid on sale at HMV & enjoyed it. Then eventually added Dirty Computer. Great production values, interesting songs & a great voice.

A short story discovered in my archives. It goes back to pre-1995 as the original printout is dot matrix 🙂 I’ve done minimal editing. It is based on a real incident.

The Allegory of Love

2

He laughed, stumbling into me.

“So, what’s the promotion mean?” I asked, steadying him with an arm around his shoulder.

“More money, more responsibility.”

“A good worker like you deserves it.”

He turned. “You always say nice things about me.”

I was nonplussed. “Why not? People deserve all the praise they can get. You’re pretty good people as far as I’m concerned.”

“You never let me down,” he want on, quite serious.

“Let you down? I don’t understand.” I resisted adding, ‘I don’t see you enough to let you down.’

“You’re always the same. You treat me kind. So many guys are just … mean for the sake of being mean.”

“I like you, Steve. That’s the way I treat people I like.” I put my other arm around him & kissed the top of his head. “And you I more than like.”

“I’m sure.” He blushed. “Well, I see 1708 still has a light on.” He was squinting up at his apartment window. “I hope that doesn’t mean what I think it means.”

“And if it does.”

“Come on,” He pulled out his keys & we went in.

“This is still a gays only building?” I joked.

“I suppose,” he answered flatly.

At his door, he fumbled with the keys, dropping them twice. “Shit shit shit” he cursed under his breath.

“Well, here goes,” I whispered as we went in. I headed for the living room. A glance over my shoulder down the short hall & I saw that Ron’s door was slightly ajar. Next to it was the bathroom & then Steve’s bedroom.

“So far, so good,” I thought as I sat on the sofa in the darkest corner of the room.

Steve went into the kitchen & got a beer. He unbuttoned his shirt & sat next to me. There was a rustling sound from one of the cages behind us.

“Ofeelme is preggers.” Steve explained, sitting up on his knees & gingerly putting on hand into the cage to brush the fur of a swollen hamster. “How you doing little mama?” He whispered gently.

“How’s Hamlet?” I asked. 

“Proud as can be. I separated them because the last time Papa got a bit jealous & ate some of the babies.”

“Gross, Steve. You really know how to turn me on.”

He laughed, lifting Hamlet out of the other cage. “He’s happy to see you. Say Hi to Uncle Bri.” He sat holding the hamster gently in his hand, lightly stroking the fur between its ears. “You always love me, don’ you Hamlet? Food in the same place is all you ask. You know,” he turned to me, “he goes back time & time again to the place where he got food hoping to get fed again”

I kissed Steven the shoulder as he put Hamlet back.

“Let’s go to bed.” He gave me another of his wonderful, sloppy kisses.

I darted past Ron’s room to Steve’s just on the other side of the bathroom. As I pulled off my sweatshirt the dark hall echoed with the slap of barefoot on hardwood. It was suddenly flooded with bright light.

“Steven! How dare you! You know I have to work in the morning, you know.” Ron exploded with an exasperated whine. There was the sound of a smack.

I held my breath as the bare feet came directly to Steve’s room. The sound of that smack reverberated in my mind. The last thing I wanted was some domestic squabble. The door was shoved open hard & I was caught in the intrusive hall light. 

“And how dare … YOU? I told Steve never to bring you into my house.”

He clenched his fist & hit me in the chest. “Get out of here, you trash.”

Not much of a punch,” I thought. The glaring light kept me from being distracted by his hairless naked body.

“Get going, now.” He handed my jacket & shoved me toward the door.

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Jonesing for Joplin

Quincy Jones is a chameleon. His work with others is classic without a sense of his personality over-shadowing theirs. He lets the artist shine & I’ve heard anything he’s been involved with & thought ‘that’s a Quincy Jones production.’ He is not a revolutionary like, say, Phil Spector.

I have a couple of lp to cds of his ‘solo’ work: This Is How I Feel About Jazz, Plays Mancini, Ndeda. The first I found in a remainder bin & it is smooth bop. Ndeda was double set I bought used, that is a compilation of some of his soundtrack music (In The Heat of the Night) & instrumental things like Soul Safari. The Mancini is sweet & they are a perfect match. If nothing else Quincy Jones is a tasteful, elegant producer.

Near Jones is a set of lp to cd transfers of Scott Joplin music performed by Joshua Rifkin, Southland Stingers, Canadian Brass & New England Conservatory Ragtime Ensemble. Joplin almost became a footnote, his music relegated to music scholars until the movie ‘The Sting’ that made his rags universal & they were resurrected by so many ensembles one lost track & sometimes couldn’t tell who was playing which one. I enjoyed them in small doses 🙂 

Most of the recordings are too respectful, treating them like Chopin Etudes, some are jazzier & some are more in the line of sweet polite salon orchestras. So many artists recorded these I’m surprised there isn’t a Tomita version 🙂 Unlike many early 1900 blues performers there are no historic recording sof Joplin actually playing but there are some player piano rolls he made which are fun & can be found on YouTube.

A short story discovered in my archives. It goes back to pre-1995 as the original printout is dot matrix 🙂 I’ve done minimal editing. It is based on a real incident. 

The Allegory of Love

1

“Not again!” I reluctantly pushed Steve’s roaming hand away. “Don’t start something you’re not going to finish.”

He squinted up at me, uncertain & a bit drunk.

I leaned in to speak directly into his ear. “Just because I don’t like being used doesn’t mean ‘stop so soon’.”

“Used?” He took a deep swallow of his beer. “What do you mean?” He stepped back & bumped into a man in leather.

The bar’s music was so loud I couldn’t hear myself. “Call me. I can’t talk here.”

Steve nodded & disappeared into the crowd. 

Thank God I thought, breathing a sigh of relief & dismay. I do like Steve, but too much to continue with pointless flirtation.

I suspected that time a couple of weeks ago was our last encounter. It had been under the same circumstance. Me feeling the lure of the full moon & Steve feeling the lull of enough brew. We’ve had fun many times before & I always look forward to what I called ‘rubbing our two sticks together.’ 

Steve shared an apartment with Ron. When I met them both several years ago at a mutual friend’s birthday party. I was instantly attracted Steve. They were introduced to me as friends not as boyfriends. Ron was a bitch, or so it seemed. Ron & I got into clawing at each other for some reason. Something we’re all too good at, I suppose.

I ran into Steve a few nights later & came on to him like the proverbial ton on brick. It was a meltdown in the sack & has been nearly every time we got our sticks together. Usually at my place but sometimes at his, if Ron wasn’t in. Over the years sex was so good, & Steve comparable enough, I would have set up housekeeping with him, except there was that Ron in the ointment. 

Steve never described them as being lovers, but Ron seemed to run more of Steve’s life than anyone should run anyone’s. But who am I to judge?

I was open with Steve about my affection for him. He wasn’t displeased, but I could sense that emotions frightened him. Staying with Ron seemed to be his way of keeping scary feelings at bay. For lat couple of month I felt their relationship was about to change, but our last encounter made me see things differently.

I’d arrived at the bar later than usual & was making my first foray into the smokey land of men, when Steve reached out of a dark corner. He grabbed me by the belt & pulled me in for one of those long, sloppy kisses that turn me to jelly.

“Good to see ya, Brian.”

“It’s been awhile.” I laughed. I knew he was a bit looped; he usually was to be so bold.

“Watcha’ been up to? The photo biz still keep you in focus?” He teased, running his free hand over my stomach.

“Things are developing well enough. And you? Getting anywhere in men’s wear?”

“Got a promotion.” He said proudly.

“Things must be going well.” I gently bit his ear.

“We’re opening a new branch since I took over.”

“Great! Soon you’ll be Queen of the Reduced to Queers.”

He giggled. “I really like you. You make me laugh.”

“You make me …” I squeezed his bunds.

“Same here.” He returned the squeeze, while draining his beer. “I’ll be right back.”

He darted off for another beer. As I watched him merge into the crowd, I wondered if this was going to lead to one of our meltdowns. Short, stocky & hairy, he was the perfect teddy bear for me to curl around tonight.

Back with a beer, he hugged me affectionately. “You know my little wang goes ‘boink’ whenever I see you.”

“That’s nothing to complain about.”

“How am I in the sack?”

Feeling a little insecure tonight?’I thought, as I replied. “You’re great. I keep coming back, don’t I”

“You treat me so …” he took a swallow of beer.

“Tender?” I offered.

“Yeah! Like you cared.”

“Why shouldn’t I? You deserve it. Just one thing.”

“What?”

“Often we’re too rushed. I want to savour what I enjoy. I hate to eat & run when the food is so good.”

“Thanks.” He pulled me in for another fly-popping kiss. “Let’s go.” He said pulling on his jacket.

“The coast is clear tonight?”

“Ah, who gives a fuck? It’s my home as much as his.”

“You’re sure? You know I …”

“You coming?”

“Sure.” I felt a slight misgiving. “What the hell. We can go to my place, if you’d rather.” I suggested as we walked along. “You really don’t a nose-bleed going that far north.”

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Moby Grape

Their 2nd release was the double lp Wow, Grape Jam – which were eventually also released as separate albums. Its gimmick was a track (featuring Arthur Godfrey) recorded to play at a 78 rpm – I rarely heard it then as I was too lazy to change the speed. The other gimmick was the Jam album of live jams with the likes of Mike Bloomfield, to prove their musicianship.

 I can remember getting that first lp from the Columbia Record Club as there was no retail store in Sydney that carried much non-top 40 music. The same for Wow. I really like the art work & the titling for 2nd lp Grape Jam etc. Very clever & trippy. I enjoy that jam music now more than I did then. I replaced those early lps & the two subsequent ones with mp3 downloads. I had never heard Truly Fine Citizen or 20 Granite Creek until I downloaded them. Booth were critically well-regarded but not hit parade material 🙂

The band was plagued by internal conflict & major management issues & that was reflected in the music they produced. They never developed a cohesive sound – having 5 lead singers may have influenced that. The music is rock with some psychedelic touches. Their sound was never distinctive but each lp has great tracks & some unexpectedly pretty moments. Even a few classics: Omaha, Murder In My Heart. 

Truly Fine Citizen, 20 Granite Creek are more cohesive if undistinguished. They move from a rock sound to a more country-rock sound. I have downloaded the re-issues of the first lps which come with lots of bonus tracks. The group apparently is still together with some of the original members. If you are unfamiliar that first lp is an ideal one to start with & it is a classic of the late 60s California sound.

The Wings Of St. Martinia

Last night Hank Grebly did me the great honour & pleasure of taking me to the Maple Valley Rialto Cinema – it is a shame that this fine building is now only opened on weekends for our film going pleasures. 

I can remember a time when it would be busy seven days a week, offering us the finest in Hollywood films and fresh roasted peaches or tasty caramel bark corn.

Every time I enter the Rialto I am taken back to a distant era – the mirror balls in the ceiling reflect the many spot lights around the floor. The zig-zag carpeting & lame seat coverings make me long for simpler times.

The film Hank took me to was “The Wings Of St. Martinia.” Many of you are familiar with the local tales of St. Martinia & the font at St. Sufferer’s. Those are her blood spattered wings holding the baptismal tub in the centre of the nave. Not her actual wings, but representations. Not many angels would have had five sets of wings.

Like the Rialto this film is also a relic of another time. Recently discovered in the vaults at College of Arts and Reconstructionist Designers, we were first treated to a lecture by Rudgar Quartz, the Professor of Cinema Studies there, who gave the history of both the film, St, Martinia and the Rialto itself. A very educational evening, leavened by the delightful film itself.

The story is a simple one of suffering and repentance through suffering. Martinia, born out of wed-lock to the daughter of silver smith and troupe of travelling carnival workers, had to face the disgrace of her family and neighbours all through her life.

She saved her fellow orphans from the rain of comets in 1879 by waking each and every child, and leading them to safety. Sadly she wasn’t able to get back to rescue any of her teachers. She comforted the children, as they heard the screams of the staff, who had been trapped in locked rooms in the upper quarters of the orphanage.

In leading the children through the swamps to safety she also rescued Button, a Labrador retriever and her recent litter of puppies. This is why the suckling Labrador retriever has become the representation for St. Martinia. When they say, she of the many teats, they are referring to Button and not to St Martinia.

A fact that I was not aware of either.

The movie follows her travails in the garment trade, being abducted by pirates and finally her mission to Mongolia where she single handedly brought the word of good to those unhappy and dirty mountain people. Her attempts to show them the joys of body wash brought tears of joy to my eyes.

If you have a chance to, get in to see this delightful movie. Tell them Dolly sent you, and you may get an extra dollop of moose mustard on your red hots. 

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Joni and Ancestors

 On an mp3 collection I have by Joni Mitchell: Live at Club 47 – 68, Clouds, Ladies on the Canyon, Blue, The Hissing of Summer Lawns, Hejira. as well as: Mimi & Richard Farina: celebrations for a grey day; Malvina Reynolds: Sings The Truth (Little Boxes): Melanie: Candles in the Rain. As Joni stand alones: For The Roses, Court and Spark, hits 1. Plus Herbie Hancock’s jazz homage – The Joni Letters.

I enjoy Joni Mitchell but I am not a huge fan. I certainly respect her as an artist & love her willingness to follow her musical muses regardless of commercial appeal. But if I never hear ‘Both Sides Now’ again I’ll be fine 🙂 As I look over the rack listings for the lps I have my favourite remains ‘Songs To Aging Children Come’ which, as I age, becomes even more pertinent.

I never really followed her career’s ups & downs, or her private life so I hear her songs without that baggage. There are cuts on each of these lps I love, some lps that I can’t name a track from. I find that one of the lps suffer from a mix that buries her voice in such way that it is lost, to my ears. Tracks slip into one another – if there were no silence between them I wouldn’t know when one ended & another began.

Unlike similar female artists, such as Laura Nyro, she survived in the  male-dominated & dictated music industry. She didn’t get buried for forging her own path or for not selling zillions of singles. 

On this mp3 collection I put her into context with other California folkies. Mimi & Richard Farina: celebrations for a grey day – this is sweet, folk-rock with a tinge of jazz, bluegrass. Richard’s early death turned him into a legend. 

Malvina Reynolds: Sings The Truth. Best known for the hit Little Boxes (the precursor in a way to Big Yellow Taxi) this is protest music in a fun 60s way. Almost traditional folk this a lost treasure full of sharp social commentary. The New Restaurant is timeless, as is Little Boxes – some things never change. 

Melanie: Candles in the Rain. Melanie owes a lot to all the above. She managed some top ten hits then sort of faded away.  Lay Down owes much to the Edwin Hawkins Singers for its success. ‘Look What They’ve Done To My Song’ is a classic but in her case it’s also come ‘’Look What They’ve Done To My Career’ when her label dropped her for refusing to produce lps on demand.

The Grinding

Festive readers, I am pleased to bring you a wrap up of the week-end’s events.  The highlight of which has to be the annual Lighting of the Trees. Held in several locations in the hills about Crab Apple Corners the horizon is illuminated by the first official rite of the season.

I choose to attend the ceremony at Hijil’s Farm – they had obtained two of the remaining stand of ancient red wood sycamores and had them flown in for the occasion. Trees so large they needed two helicopters to carry each of them.

The first flame was applied to them by our local Miss Pig Driver, Tanis-Lotus Flatly. The trees did us the great honour of being slow to ignite, but once they had been engulfed in flames the look of joy in the faces of the children was worth the wait.

Once these two trees were in flames, burning torches were taken to the sites where other trees were ready for the ceremony. The Great Maple at McCracken’s of Daw Hill was the next to be torched and quickly one could see similar fires all across the country side. Hijil’s Farm perched atop Green Bluffs gave us a splendid view of the various tributes to the season.

Once the first two trees had been burnt to cinders our parish Vicar Father Frank did The Grinding and was quickly joined by the other men who were of age, to participate in this ritual.

I was thrilled to be offered by my one and only Hank Grebly the fruits of his grinding. A jar filled with these delicate ashes and moose fat can sit proudly on any mantle piece. There will be enough here to guarantee me a year of fertility and good weather. After all, it only takes a pinch a day, tossed into the wind to catch the eye of the spirits for protection.

The carolling at St. Sufferer’s Cathedral was once again a thrill, especially now that the bells have almost been tuned. The climax of each verse is a ringing of these bells that echoes though our happy valley and shimmers through the fragrant smoke produced by the Lighting of the Trees.

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Scarlatti vs Schafer

By Domenico Scarlatti (1685 – 1757) (son of Alessandro Scarlatti), a late master of the Italian Baroque, I have  2 cds of his harpsichord sonatas – that are lp to cd transfers from MHS recordings. Rounded out with John Addison (1920-1998) soundtrack to Tom Jones. 

I enjoy harpsichord but in small doses. This was a 2 lp set that I would listen to one side then a week later listen to another side. The music is,. as far as I know, excellent but I could only stand so much of that tinkling at a time 🙂 A little bit an go a long way though I did like this enough to do the transfer. I doubt that IU would recognize any of these sonatas if I heard them on the radio – unlike, say, Chopin which I can ‘spot’ instantly.

I am a great soundtrack lover. John Addison’s soundtrack to Tom Jones is driven by solo harpsichord, so it seems only natural to include it here. The playing, as expected, is more modern but it conveys the style of the time nicely, too. I’ve seen the film but when I listen to this lp I have no associations to any scenes in the movie. 

After all that busy baroque figure work it is a bit of a relief to come to R. Murray Schafer (1933), he is from a totally different time era & music philosophy. I’m including him here because he is next on the shelf 🙂 I have this sand-alone 1997 CBC live recording of Wolf Music. It is conceptual music meant to be heard live for best effect. The ‘concert’ would be heard walking through a forest while the musicians placed in various location would be playing. The music is evocative, soothing & it does hold up without the forest. I’d love to experience this but it is live music for the financially elite not common folks like myself.

Arts und Krafts

Kind readers one thing that I neglected to mention in my wee report yesterday was the Christmas Arts und Krafts display at St. Sufferer’s Cathedral’s Fun Fair. Like many of you I have seen my share of knitted booties for rifle stocks and candle holders made out of moose dung but there were some very fine pieces from the near by College of Arts and Reconstructionist Designers of Palmixalitato County.

I am well aware of the rivalry that has been going on between the students in that county and our own but remember we did trounce them the last three years in the Provincial Open Court Peach Pit Curling Play Off. So we can afford to allow them to excel at something and excel they did at the Fun Fair.

There were many charming crystallized bones pieces from the Anatomy of Design classes there. I was particularly taken by the crystallized moose bone reproductions of the Departments of the Cross that one Leslie Ann Marie Betty McDellon had created. 

I can’t imagine what sort of skill it takes to do such fine work but I can certainty respect the work that it took. 

Also many were charmed by the spiderwood furniture Gregh O’Treple has wrought there. A sturdy eight legged rocking chair with a fine webbed seat and back was very comfortable to sit in for long periods of time. He hopes to follow in the family footsteps and may be opening his own furniture and restraints shoppe right here in Crab Apple Corners. He will surely be missed in Palmixalitato County. But their misery is always our gain.

Another feature of the Fun Fair that cannot be neglected was the food pavilion. Over 20,000 were seated at one time for a fine feeding of Trish Creamly’s delicious sprung bark toffee pie. Trish you have out done yourself this year. Just save that recipe for my wedding reception. I know if you keep your hands on the crust you’ll keep them off my man – just kidding folks.

The children at the Fun Fair were also treated to a production by the local Armature Theatre Guild. They performed tragic scenes from various plays. The beheading of John the Baptist brought the crowd to their feet and kudos must go to Hank Grebly who did a fine job in the title role 

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A Miller’s Divine Tale Part 2

The next two Steve Miller’s induces: Circle Of Love, Abracadabra, Italian X Rays, Living in the 20th Century, Wide River, Young Hearts, Live 1983, Anthology, The Joker, Fly Like An Eagle, Born 2B Blue. Plus: Quicksilver Messenger Service: Maiden of the Cancer Moon; Rubáiyát: Elektra Compilation; Daniel Lanois: Acadie; Divine: Unforgettable Hits.

With Abracadabra, The Joker, & Fly Like An Eagle the band hit its stride. These were big sellers & deservedly so. But as music trends changed the group fell out of hit parade favour. Their sound didn’t change much – though Italian X Rays shows the influence of Graham Parker. The Steve Miller Band were ‘adult’ pop not teeny-bopper fodder. As good as any of their contemporaries they never disappoint even if they never surprise 🙂 

 Quicksilver Messenger Service: Maiden of the Cancer Moon – this a a great double lp live set around the time of Happy Trails. Extended solos & trippy guitar work. This allows you to experience why they became legendary but also why they never became hit-parade material. Like Miller this is adult rock. Also it’s great to hear them before they got a bit lost as they searched for a consistent music focus.

Rubáiyát is Elektra Records 1990 40th anniversary collection of covers by the then present-day Elektra artists of songs from its catalogue. So you get things like the Cure covering The Doors ‘Hello, I Love You’ (you were expecting them to cover ‘The End’?) All the covers are restrained, no radical make overs. The original packaging was in keeping with the anniversary extensive  liner notes, deluxe ruby red cassette in a presentation box.

Daniel Lanois’s Acadie is a gentle almost humble album that is, as the title suggests, a pop meditation on his Québecois heritage. Folksy, warm & satisfying. It reminds me of The Band more than of U2 🙂 He’s best known as a producer & at one time having him as your producer was a guarantee of a grammie nomination.

All these guys produce great music but also reflect their time. Songs to ‘girls’ not ‘women.’ Paeans to lost heterosexual loves, drugs & political statements. So to counter balance all that I’ve included Divine’s Greatest Hit. Songs done with high energy, enthusiasm, humour & sexual innuendo. Can Divine sing? Who knows? Who cares? This music for fun that is well produced & you can dance to it till you shoot your shot. 

The Polishing of the Magi

The Armature Theatre Guild has been forced to cancel this years presentation of “The Polishing of the Magi” – I understand this will come as a disappointment to many of you – especially those of you whose children had been fortunate enough to be chosen to play the parts of the shepherds, lambs, sacrifices, dervishes and of course, the ultra blessed couple themselves.

Rehearsals had been going better than ever, according to Hank Grebly. It was the first time someone other than a member of the McGinch clan had been given the opportunity to direct the production and Hank was making the most of this opportunity.

But alas, as things often do, it all went to the apple press in a hand cart when it was clear that the McGinch’s weren’t willing to allow things to progress smoothly. Not that this comes as much of a surprise either, mind you. We all pay for our indulgence of this family and its anti-social actions. 

But not to give up all hope, as it seems Hank and some of the cast will be presenting a childless clown version of the same story. It may not have the same impact, but the show must go on. We will be spared the often bitter competition over whose baby gets to play the pivotal role of the fulcrum of all religions. That alone almost makes up for not having a full scale production, doesn’t it?

On a lighter note the Visitor’s Mall will be hosting their annual Midnight Madness sale, for those us who have time and need for yet more shopping. As the Mall says ‘Shopping is in the true spirit of the season, and if we don’t spend we just aren’t pious.’

I pray their prayers are answered.

Please note that the left-handicraft fair slated for the Pumpkin County Area has been cancelled. It was to be a fund raiser for the production of the “Polishing of the Magi” & seeing as that has been cancelled, there seemed little reason to have the craft fair. 

Those who had planned to pick up some of Sylvia’s Jams and Moose Tarts can find a display of them at Bea Petratica’s Bridalle Shoppe and at Meg’s Cafe. Get there early as these delicious treats don’t last long.

Sylvia has introduced two new jams this year that I, for one, can’t wait to try. The Orange & Maple Ashes with Nutmage and Quince with Ginger & Bark. I have no idea what bark she has used,  but I’m sure it will be a savoury deflight to perk up those you who are disappointed by the cancellation of the “Polishing of the Magi.”

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A Miller’s Tale Part 1

I have a 4cd mp3 collection of San Francisco’s Steve Miller Band. The first covers 68-72: Children of the Future, Sailor, Brave New World, Saving Grace, Number 5, Rock Love. On it is also Dino Valente (aka Chet Powers Jr); Sir Douglas Quintet: Honkey Blues, Mendocino. The second covers 72-77: Live 73-76; Recall The Beginning, Beginning, Living in the USA, Book of Dreams. Along with Bob Lind: Elusive Butterfly of Love ep; The Holy Modal Rounders: Anthology (New York); Delaney & Bonny: On Tour With Eric Clapton; Clinton John Leon: Clinton Vancouver BC.

So you might think I’m a fan. I certainly enjoy all the music I have by him but unlike, say The Doors, I don’t find myself coming back to him & only listen when he comes up in my play rotation.On first cd is: Children of the Future, Sailor, Brave New World, Your Saving Grace, Number 5, Rock Love. On the second is: Live 73-76; Recall The Beginning, Living in the USA, Book of Dreams.

I had cassette’s of Brave New World, Your Saving Grace that I picked up at Radio Shack. The early work is what I am most familiar with, some songs have become iconic i.e. Living In The USA. Looking at the titles of some of these I can hear the song in my head. Solid, radio friendly pop music with a sense of humour that isn’t jokey. 

To round these first two compilations I added a solo lp by Dino Valente, or Valenti (aka Chet Powers Jr) of Quicksilver Messenger Service. As Powers he wrote the anthemic “Get Together.” A peace-love song covered by nearly every California band. The lp is sweet, folk rock, but nothing special.  Another Cali-band here is  Sir Douglas Quintet: Honkey Blues, Mendocino. Rock with a Texan twang & a little bar blues. Good time music.  

Wait there’s more with an ep of Bob Lind: Elusive Butterfly of Love. A massive one hit wonder that nearly destroyed Lind. The Holy Modal Rounders: Anthology New York folk music revival and psychedelia – a bit jug band & fun. Delaney & Bonny: On Tour With Eric Clapton – boogie blues with Clapton recovering from Cream. 

Finally Vancouver BC’s Clinton John Leon: Clinton. Someone I’ve actually met – he played at Word Jam at the Free Times Cafe a couple of time in the last decade. I bought his eps, cds, when he was in Toronto. Folk rock with a define urban horror twist with songs about zombies & stalkers. Makers me miss those good old open stage days.

Arts und Krafts

Kind readers one thing that I neglected to mention in my wee report yesterday was the Christmas Arts und Krafts display at St. Sufferer’s Cathedral’s Fun Fair. Like many of you I have seen my share of knitted booties for rifle stocks and candle holders made out of moose dung but there were some very fine pieces from the near by College of Arts and Reconstructionist Designers of Palmixalitato County.

I am well aware of the rivalry that has been going on between the students in that county and our own but remember we did trounce them the last three years in the Provincial Open Court Peach Pit Curling Play Off. So we can afford to allow them to excel at something and excel they did at the Fun Fair.

There were many charming crystallized bones pieces from the Anatomy of Design classes there. I was particularly taken by the crystallized moose bone reproductions of the Departments of the Cross that one Leslie Ann Marie Betty McDellon had created. 

I can’t imagine what sort of skill it takes to do such fine work but I can certainty respect the work that it took. 

Also many were charmed by the spiderwood furniture Gregh O’Treple has wrought there. A sturdy eight legged rocking chair with a fine webbed seat and back was very comfortable to sit in for long periods of time. He hopes to follow in the family footsteps and may be opening his own furniture and restraints shoppe right here in Crab Apple Corners. He will surely be missed in Palmixalitato County. But their misery is always our gain.

Another feature of the Fun Fair that cannot be neglected was the food pavilion. Over 20,000 were seated at one time for a fine feeding of Trish Creamly’s delicious sprung bark toffee pie. Trish you have out done yourself this year. Just save that recipe for my wedding reception. I know if you keep your hands on the crust you’ll keep them off my man – just kidding folks.

The children at the Fun Fair were also treated to a production by the local Armature Theatre Guild. They performed tragic scenes from various plays. The beheading of John the Baptist brought the crowd to their feet and kudos must go to Hank Grebly who did a fine job in the title role of that piece.

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Modern Jazz Crusaders

Moving along the ‘j’ shelf of my jazz collection we come to the Jazz Crusaders. I have as stand alones: at the Light House, Chile Con Soul, Old Socks New Shoes. On a nearly 7 hours  Mp3 collection: Les McCann & the Jazz Crusaders: Jazz Waltz, & Way Back Home 4 cd set. plus; The Modern Jazz Quartet: Plastic Dreams, Bluesology, In Memoriam 1974. These groups represent opposite ends of the jazz spectrum.

One of my co-workers when I lived in Sydney was a major jazz fan. He loaned me many amazing lps by musicians, such a Hampton Hawes, whom I still love today. One lp was Tough Talk by the Jazz Crusaders. At the time I didn’t realize it was a best of compilation. I was taken by the use of harpsichord almost as a percussion instrument. I heard it often in pop by groups like the Left Banke, Procol Harum. 

At that time I made an lp to cassette copy of many of the lps I borrowed from him & eventually replaced them with cds, then mp3. I never did find Tough Talk 😦 But did come across a 4 cd collection of the Crusaders & then some stand alones of stuff not in the collection. The group’s sound was rooted in hard bop, but with a slant towards R&B and soul music; a jazzier version of Booker T & the MG’s. The sort of music that shows up in movie scenes set in hipster night clubs.

The Modern Jazz Quartet as their name indicates a ‘serious’ quartet playing more traditional jazz – not quite chamber music but very controlled & harmonious – not freeform experimental like say, Coltrane. Piano, vibes, upright bass, quiet drums. No jazz-rock-fusion here. 

I bought Plastic Dreams because of the amazing cover art. I had never heard of them before so wasn’t prepared for what I did hear.  Jazzed up Christmas carols, jazzed up classical music & originals. Not as bouncy as Brubeck but similar. Tasteful, controlled like a dry martini – whereas The Crusaders are funky, nearly juke-joint sloppy like a Singapore Sling. I enjoy them both. 

On The Exams

She was the first person I had met who had suffered the loss of an elbow. I had so many questions I wanted to ask but knew here in class wouldn’t be the right time or place. I had to know how did it happen. The nub was so smooth. Almost as if there had never been anything beyond it. Did she feel anything when it happened. Did she wake up in this morning and her elbow was gone.

A couple of the students had gone to the office to get the vice-principal. It felt like we were telling on her but something had to be done and we students didn’t know what to do.

Mr Jackson took her by the shoulders and gently lead her out of the room. “You boys behave. Someone will be with you directly.”

We did behave. We sat still, silent looking at the scattered smudge she had put on the blackboard. A few of us tried to copy it as exactly as we could. One never knew what was going to be on the exams

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Amen King Baby

Next in the ‘m’ section is Mighty Baby: The Action, Mighty Baby, Jug Of Love, Tasting The Life Live 1971; Amen Corner (Scream and Scream Again);  King Crimson: In The Court of the Crimson King (Bonus tracks). Beautiful People: If 60’s were 90’s: bonus Remixes.

Mighty Baby started out as The Action. I’d never heard of them until a track came up in my Tumblr feed a few years ago. There is an endless number of this good British bands that never made it to the North American market. Good wasn’t enough 🙂 The Lps are enjoyable if unexceptional. Solid pub pop that reflects prevailing trends with a touch of prog, some strong Traffic influences, psychedelic & music hall. Sound quality is good. 

Amen Corner is similar though more ‘arty.’ They reminded me of groups like Savoy Brown, Procol Harum. I knew their name but had never heard them until they showed up in the horror movie  ‘Scream and Scream Again.’ There was movie trend to include scenes with actual current pop groups. So Amen shows up in a disco scene singing the title song & looking like a dandified version of the Zombies. It’s clear that the dancers aren’t facing to the song the band is supposedly playing. They don’t have any scenes with the film’s star Vincent Price. Another fine British group that never crossed the ocean This is a sort of ‘best of’ collection. btw Amen Corner is out of Cardiff – Welsh pop 🙂

King Crimson is a British group that did make in big in America. I love In The Court of the Crimson King & added this re-mastered released that has live bonus tracks. This is the epitome of prog rock, psychedelic flower-power pop. It lives up to its reputation.  

Lastly a reissue of Beautiful People’s If 60’s were 90’s with bonus remixes. As this is sampled & remixes of Jimi Hendrix to begin with it now has remixes of some of those remixes. I love this lp – I had it for a time as a stand-alone then opted for this remastered reissue. Hendrix purists dislike this but it is fun, funky, inventive and the remixed remixes are great. 

In The Class Room

“Could you pass me that book’?” Mrs. McLean gestured with the stump of her left arm.

“This one?” I picked up the English text that had fallen off her desk.

She had two arms yesterday. In her sleeveless flowered yellow dress the stump was odd. A left arm that ended just before the elbow and nothing on the other side. As if it was a trick of the light; that my eyes were almost seeing what was once there. 

I didn’t want to stare too obviously. It wasn’t red or raw, the end was smooth, healed. It seemed impossible to me that less that twenty-four hours ago she had a flesh and blood arm there & now it was gone. I wanted ask her what happened. Then I hoped maybe she’d tell us what it had happened.

She went to the board and started to write with an apparatus two of the students helped strap to her left arm. Her writing was jagged, child-like & it got worse as she went along. At one point she rubbed some of it off with her right shoulder. She stopped abruptly with her back to us, her head pressed to the blackboard, sobbing.

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Midnight Movies Madness

This mp3 compilation is devoted to soundtracks & music related to soundtracks. On it are Midnight Cowboy – John Barry: Nilsson, Elephant’s Memory; Zabriskie Point (Expanded) Pink Floyd, Jerry Garcia; Zachariah – James Gang, New York Rock’n’Roll Ensemble; Batman & Robin: Sun Ra; New York Rock’n’Roll Ensemble: Reflections, Manos Hatzidakis; Billy Ocean: Love Zone: When The Going Gets Tough; Ghostbusters.

The last time I tired to watch Midnight Cowboy I couldn’t sit through it. Hoffman’s twitchy performance irritated me, but the music is great. The bulk of it, by soundtrack specialist John Barry, is fine. But Nilsson’s Everybody’s Talking To Me out-shines all of it & the harmonica reprise emotionally appealing. Elephant’s Memory’s songs are proto-psychedelic fun. Yes, they later backed up John & Yoko. 

I will never forget seeing the slow-motion house debris floating to Pink Floyd’s music in Michelangelo Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point. The bizarre desert love scene to Jerry Garcia’s music is memorable too. Here I have the expanded version of the soundtrack that has more of the Garcia, Floyd & unused music commissioned for the soundtrack. A strange, counterculture film with an amazing soundtrack. I do have the dvd of the film.

Another counterculture film is Zachariah (written by The Firesign Theatre.) An anachronistic, hippy,  western parody that opens with the James Gang playing on the horizon; New York Rock Ensemble appear playing a number in the bordello scene. The plot is secondary to the gonzo film making. Great music, a fun soundtrack that also includes dialogue from the film – which I haven’t seen since it was released, not even on TCM. 

Speaking of the New York Rock Ensemble I have their Reflections with music by Manos Hatzidakis. The movie connection is Manos Hatzidakis who got an Oscar nomination for ‘Never On A Sunday.’ The Ensemble are a Juilliard trained string quartet who become a rock band combining both (before ELO did similar). Reflections is a sweet collection of songs more chamber rock than anything else. Well worth your searching out.

I downloaded this Batman and Robin music because it was performed by the great Sun Ra. Solid jazz work & fun.  Billy Ocean’s Love Zone, features When the Going Gets Tough – a song from ‘The Jewel Of The Nile.’ Ghostbusters was a huge seller thanks to Ray Parker Jr.’s iconic title song refrain ‘I ain’t ‘fraid of no ghost.’

Creak 

“They found another elbow in the park.”

My mother was doing something to eggs on the stove. The scrape of the spatula dull on the frying pan as if she wasn’t fully paying attention to anything. 

“I said they found …”

“Human remains. I heard you dear. I’m afraid they have to be scrambled.”

I hated scrambled eggs. I would cook my own breakfast but even when I started she would hover then take over as if she was doing me a favour, saying something like “Boys shouldn’t cook.”

“Left or right?” She asked.

“Huh?”

“The elbow, was it left or right.”

“I didn’t hear.” The eggs were a yellow clump with browned edges. “That makes the the forth or fifth this month.”

“Soon they’ll hav enough for a whole body.” My mother sort of half laughed. “How are the eggs.”

“Yummy.”

“Can that tell much anyway?” She sat, stirred her coffee. “After all it’s just an elbow joint isn’t it.”

“Yep.” The eggs were fine. “Severed clean. I think there’s enough for them to tell it’s an elbow from the the way the joint moves.”

“Ooo.” My mother shuddered. “Gives me the creeps to think of an elbow like that, of some csi guy manipulating with their hands.”

She manipulated an invisible elbow in the air over her coffee cup. 

“Would it squeak like a rusty door, I wonder?” She made a weird squeak with her voice. 

“Creeeeeaquee.”

We both laughed. I finished my eggs.

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