Archive for February, 2011

This week’s 11 items of greatness!

February 27, 2011

1.My Band-  Sure, we’re only in the planning stages and whatnot, but it’s been downright fun just thinking about it, mapping out songs we would like to rearrange into different shapes and sizes, and of course brainstorming names. So many interesting names to choose from, like the absurdly sacreligious, Peanut Butter and Jesus, or the beautifully vulgar, Mary Poppins’ twat(Great name, Casey).  Craig’s Pity Party, Casey and The Wombats, and The politically incorrect are all great too, as well as As Seen on TV, Clairvoyant Cannibal, Cokehead Riot and one of my favorites, High Speed Daydreams.  We ask that you help us narrow down our choices by picking your favorites and sounding off on them.

2.Radioland- I mentioned last week about my friend Felix The Cataclysm’s radio show on WKNH, http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000900886434#!/home.php?sk=group_106715139402575&ap=1 . So thursday after picking up one of my bestest buddies from work and after we ate our chicken nuggets and brainstormed band names and songs we ran over to the radio station, where I found myself involved in a very intense session of singing improvisation.  And it came much easier to me than I ever realized it could. It helped to be reunited with my buddy Steve, my co-founder of the continual acapella failure that is still known as The Testostertones, even though it never existed past a single song, no matter how many times I(we) tried to rehash it.  Singing about waffles in the sunshine, and people through windows and beauty and love, and playing our hearts out on kazoos really made me feel so very much alive.  Thank you for giving me such a great outlet to express myself WKNH, and I’m glad I could bring my wonderful buddy Casey with me to experience it, and I’m thankful for Steve and the way he views musical experience, thankful for Felix playing Pat Benatar’s anxiety and Nancy Wilson’s cover of Ain’t No Sunshine per my suggestions. And thank you, Olive, English Muffin, Zac “David Byrne” Arnault and (Bob) Dylan Belcort.  Tune in this coming Thursday for I may very well be appearing again.

3.Chicken Nuggets- Sorry to my Veggie buddies, but I just want to say that if you eat chicken, Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Nuggets are the greatest, especially with ranch sauce and giant cups of root beer, especially when I manage not to spill them all over my amazing friends.

4.Work- Just Kidding, seeing if you’re paying attention!

5.The Flaming Lips- Quite simply, the at times very much non-simple album, Transmissions From The Satellite Heart seems to exude sunshine and waffles.  But what to spread on those waffles?  I’ll have you know that “She Don’t Use Jelly.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXPh8RzBNhY

6.More poetry than you can shake a stick at- Once more most of my writing for this week as well seems to be on receipts at work. The motivation is hard to come by at work and otherwise lately, with my stories at a standstill for the last week or two, knowing what will happen next but not knowing how to get to there, how to lead into a new scene.  But without the bursts of poetic energy at work, I truly would have left there long ago.

Here’s one of my receipt poems for your pleasure or not as the case may be.

http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000900886434#!/note.php?note_id=101501025186491837.

7. A machine gun for a leg- Just watch yourself some Planet Terror already. Robert Rodriguez makes some crazyass movies.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvUj1p4PypQ

8.Snowstorms- Give it a rest already mother nature, I don’t have time to go out and  play in your snowy prettyness, and also don’t want to hurt my car more than it already has been this season.  K, Thanks. Bye.

9.Going Out Of Business- I must say that when stores decide they need to close forever, they must make a crap ton of money.  So blockbuster in brattleboro is closing, and seeing “all movies six dollars and under” staring at me from the sign, there is no way i can resist.  I settled on only two movies, just because I figure dthere will still be some good things left when there is another reduction.  And thus I finally managed to watch Planet Terror, complete with good company, and cheesy bread, and  some sort of cake that changed my life. 

Borders is closing many stores, including the one at my local mall, so of course I made sure to buy myself some books there in addition to my blockbuster movies.  Such great deals when places are closing, it would seem.

10.Blackbird- The song has been flitting around in my head for most of the week, in all sorts of styles and arrangements, and I’m sure it will continue to do so until I can perform it better than the attempt in the radio station the other night. Remember that the verses don’t have the same words people!  Especially those jerks on American Idol, they got it wrong on National TV, for shit’s sakes!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5CUHHGlQg0

11.Poetic “Just Us”- Finally convinced myself to start advertising for my experimental theatre project, so I’ll keep you posted in the coming days, weeks, months and years, about this, and of course anything else of interest to me or to you.

Peace!

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A new sort of Countdown

February 20, 2011

Well folks, it’s not just for music anymore, but still expect lots of music. 🙂

1.Arcade Fire nabs album of the year at the Grammy’s: This year’s show had a lot more deserving winners than I seem to remember in more recent time, and with the exception of performances by Eminem, and Justin Beiber, the show itself was better than I remember.  To see The Avett Brothers and Mumford and Sons play together was nothing short of awesome, but then to have Bob Dylan sing, accompanied by both bands, even though he doesn’t seem to have much of a voice anymore, was pretty  awesome.  The Academy seemed to champion deserving bands a lot this year, so what the hell gives Eminem best rap album, over hardworking groups like The Roots? Eminem’s angry yelling is simply that in my mind, angry yelling!  At least my favorite Canadian Indie people beat him for album of the year!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IjKE2T3-DOI&feature=related

2.NEW RADIOHEAD ALBUM- They announced earlier in the week, that they would release their new album, The King OF Limbs, for $9 download on their site, TODAY!  I have yet to delve too far into it, but what I have noticed so far, is something a bit unlike anything else by them, but it makes me think of a more subdued version of In Rainbows

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cfOa1a8hYP8

3.Turn It UP!- My favorite independent record store, located in Keene, Brattleboro, Northampton, and at the Montague book mill.  On any given day, who knows what you’ll find?  I sure don’t know from one visit to the next what musical gems I will find.  An extensive selection of new and used, vinyl and CDs, plus movies, and video games.  There literally is something for everyone, and beyond that, probably something from almost everyone.  I surprise myself by how well I have embraced the digital age, but I can’t help it, I can only keep up with my music cravings by selling or trading.  And what better place to spread musical joy but here.  One such trade brings into my possession the classic 1993 Flaming Lips album, “Transmissions From The Satellite Heart,” and 2009’s release by Arctic Monkeys, “Humbug.”  Thank you Turn It Up!, for helping me on my quest for tasty musical morsels.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=guCdR2jnkls

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLsBJPlGIDU

4.Musicals-  The other day, I went to the musical at my High School.  It always makes me feel very nostalgic, having been in four of them when I was in attendance there, and haven’t avoided going a year since I left.  It’s gotten to the point where I no longer know anyone in it, and it makes me feel quite a bit old, although I know I’m not. There is always such vibrant talent in the BUHS theatre department. This year’s production was “How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying,” and full of the best High School talent I have seen in years, especially the phenomenal leading man, Taylor Patno.  Bob Kramsky has been directing plays there for nearly thirty years, and he does a stellar job of casting, and is willing to give anyone a chance to shine.  I have a lot to thank him for, and not to forget my old chorus director, who still produces the yearly musical even though he retired in my Junior year.  When I first met the two of them, I was a shy, unassuming, unconfident teenager. And yes, much of the journey was due to my own motivation, what really motivated me was to have mentors like this to believe in my talents and abilities.  And for that I thank both of those fine gentlemen, who truly know how to change the world.

5.Vagina Monologues- This year marks the third production that I have seen of Eve Ensler’s monologues, and every time I see it, I am still as amused, shocked, and moved to tears as I was the first time around.  My great women’s studies professor, Ali Lichtenstein really opened my eyes to the importance of such productions, empowering women everywhere, and empowering everyone else to use love to change this world.  I admire Eve Ensler for having the guts to approach all these women and to get them to talk about things, they might have been rather reluctant to talk about, and I in turn admire these women who were strong enough, bold enough to talk to someone  about it. Violence and abuse against women (and anyone else for that matter) will not be tolerated.  I would also like to thank the VDay movement to empower me to begin work on my own theatrical pieces of social justice.  I also want to give a big shout out to all the amazing women in this weekend’s Keene State production, especially my wonderful friends Casey and Shannon! And on a final note, wearing my V Day shirt into my place of work really turned some heads and got people not necessarily open to the movement talking about it. 🙂

6.Black History Month- There are so many great books I have read and still have been meaning to read, in honor of the subject, but between work and everything else, I am not devoting as much time as I would like to this.  But I have been posting music everyday for the last week, in honor of black history month, featuring Public Enemy and Al Green, among others.  So here are a few good tracks for your listening.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMOy9SsUQ7U

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KnDm3qr1Knk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_1GGAZDzJo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoAXW30mMAg&feature=related

7.Books!- people keep giving me free stuff, and this week is no exception.  I have three or four years worth of book sale books, that I don’t see myself ever getting through, and every week I seem to be given more. And regardless of that, I always seem to be more interested in something I can get with my library card.  As long as I work at this job, where I “need” an enire hour for lunch, maybe I can actually make my way through part of this pile.

8. Cash Register Poetry-  Since I spend so much time at work , I am not always motivated to do all the things I feel like I need to do when I get out.  I have gotten into the habit of writing ideas as they come, streaming my consciousness onto flimsy receipt paper. I get spurts of inspiration of a sort that I can’t usually recall them later, so I need a way to write them as I hear them in my mind.  In an unforeseen stroke of luck, it seems to be working to get my name out there. Customers notice that I’m furiously(or happily as the case may be) writing away as they get nearer to my register, and everyone is so interested to hear about me as a writer, as an individual, versus me as a cashier, just some nameless person they give their moneys to. One sweetheart old lady said to me, “I’m going to tell everyone that I had you as my cashier at Wal Mart when you become famous!” I’m sure it probably made me blush.

9.Subway Sandwiches- Contrary to popular opinion, I don’t know how much weight you could actually lose by eating one of these everyday, or how much money you would have left, but once in a while, they are wondrous and amazing.  My momma gave me a gift card for Valentine’s Day, so  because of that I have had two this week!  Yesterday’s foot of meat and cheese and veggies and yummy and soft bread provided me with two meals yesterday.  I have percieved their new ad campaign.  Goodbye, Jared!  The new slogan in my mind should simply be: “we make good sandwiches, eat here!”

10.Radioland-  Keene State College’s WKNH is chock full of delectable sounds for anyone’s musical taste buds. No one show is such strong evidence of this as Danger Blossoms, hosted every Thursday night by my good friend and part-time rollerskating feline, Felix The Cataclysm. Very few musical genres are not in presence here, and combined with a quirky sense of humor, and inundated with poets, special guests, and impromptu live performances, it truly is a powerhouse of radio.  It’s so full of surprises, one would be hard-pressed not to call it a variety show.  Tune in every Thursday night between 10 and 12, to hear the exotic sounds.  If you are outside of the listening area, don’t despair, the danger streams live to any computer via wknh.org.  Don’t miss out on the danger, and listen for my guest spot(hopefully) on this week’s show!

11.The most important thing of the week: LOVE-  Sure, I spend a lot more time at work than I would like, but who doesn’t? And sure, I don’t see my friends as much as I would like, but aren’t most of us in the same boat in regard to that? And that’s the great thing about love and the people who’s love means the most to us. It’s always there.  Whether it’s a postcard from my friend who is visiting “The Holy Land,” a friend reading my poem over the radio, a beautiful surprise bear hug, that nearly throws you to the ground, or talking to a person you just met at your cash register about your life as a writer, love manifests in so many different ways.  Thank you to all my friends for really giving me the motivation to shine my brightest, and for truly making this world a beautiful place to be.

🙂

Love Today

February 15, 2011

Sure, Valentine’s Day may have once again already come and gone, but keep in mind that although this seems like some silly holiday used as an excuse to engorge ourselves on chocolates, or you could be one of those people who doesn’t really see any point to the day unless they have themselves a snookums.  Be that as it may, if the day is apparently about love, let’s remember that. If we already have a someone or not, Valentine’s Day seems like the perfect day to just spread your love to all.  There is so much suffering, so much hate, so much evil in this world, if we just set aside a day to just love a little stronger, to “Try a little (more) tenderness,” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-pPqC6i2M0E and to share more of your self to the world.  One person may be able to change the world, but if we don’t “Come Together,” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8LZGQ4MkvQ our message of love may fall short.

  I had initially envisioned today’s Valentine entry as a dating advice column, but I had this idea that Valentine’s Day is better off being a world love day. But, I will digress for a few sentences to touch on a few pieces of romantic advice  I encourage people by all means, if they have sweethearts, or whatever they may title themselves, take full romantic advantage, but if your in first date territory, the “love” aspect of this holiday may be overwhelming to people only getting to know each other. You don’t want to jump the gun if you really want things to work out with the best scenario/ positive outcome.  Maybe it’s not meant to be, and maybe it is, but regardless, if you go in using a little restraint, you just might have a lifelong friend regardless. 🙂  Not always of course, but I’m a romantic through and through, and think there is too much beauty found in my circle(s) of friends to ever hope something could compromise the warm fuzzies of friendship. 

To make our lasting impact on this world, it should be clear, that what you need more than anything to do this, the driving force behind our dreams, our hopes, our desires, “All you need is love.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJ98qac2UIM  Without love, where is our motivation, where is our “drive?” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbTjzZzfR7w Human creatures need a lot of love to be able to come to terms with just simply existing sometimes.  They always say that all these wicked and bad things occur in the world, because human nature is not to be kind, loving, or gentle.  But maybe it is our nature to love.  We wouldn’t be so adamant about writing “silly love songs,” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AK9QVN0bpa4 or be so obsessed with the perpetuation of valentine’s day, or want to watch  chick flicks, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gudEttJlw3s which I am not too prideful of a man to admit to enjoying most of the time. 

To close, I would like to pose a shout out to my lovely, loving friends, who will surely be world changers, if they aren’t already.  Thank you for adding that extra spark of awesome to my life, and helping me to “Always look on the bright side of life.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2UP86bciVA  And I would also suggest that if you are in or around Keene this coming weekend go see The Vagina Monologues at Keene State, Friday and Saturday at 7, or a 2pm matinee on Saturday. One of my awesome besties, the esteemable Casey Ann Adventure is one of the directors this year, and she is brilliant. And if you really are into changing the world, and giving a little more love and/or a fan of the monologues check out the V-Day website as well, http://www.vday.org/home.

Everyone’s gonna love today, gonna love today, gonna love today……  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AWiccrTB4LM

Peace, until next time.

Countdown: 11 Albums

February 12, 2011

Mixing it up once again, with my 11 most recently listened to, or most played albums in recent time. Old school, new school and everything in between are in good representation this week.

1.The Beatles- Abbey Road:The year is 1969, and The Beatles release their panultimate album as a group.  Followed only by, Let It Be, in the year following, this is the last recording by the fab four to truly show them off as a cohesive unit. The clarity and the composition far outshine their next and last album in my mind, but I will never find myself saying Let It Be doesn’t shine for me in it’s own way, with songs like “Get back,” “Across The Universe,” and “Dig A Pony,”  but it lacks the grandiose form and the flow of other albums from the Revolutionary era.  In the tradition they set a standard with beginning with Revolver, the Beatles crafted an equally stylistically diverse cycle of stand alone songs, which also meld together in such a way, that they can almost be viewed as one big complete piece, especially the way the last few songs “come together,” as one of the most kickin’ finales in rock history.  From the blues rock of “Come Together,” the simple expressions of love and the sweet guitar solo in “Something,” through the complete ridiculousness of “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer,” and “Octopus’s Garden,” and of course Paul’s screaming Soul power in “Oh Darling!” or the brooding 8 minute opus with the amazing riff, “I Want You(She’s So Heavy),  and many other favorites, like “She Came In Through The Bathroom Window,” “Here Comes The Sun,” and “Because,” full of moog keyboards, sweeping orchestral backdrops, and crazy background noise, this album truly showcases the idea begun with Revolver, in trying to make music featuring “every sound there is,” it truly includes “something” for everybody.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzkhOmKVW08

2. Florence & The Machine- Lungs:  Florence, with her glorious crimson locks, beautifully crafted music videos, “Howl”ing, ethereal vocals, and the dense arrangements and layers of sounds, surely has a patent on a machine that knows how to satisfy musical taste buds from many inside and outside of the Indie scene.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TpLXQorSQe8

3.Fleetwood Mac-Rumours:  This is a nearly perfect album in my mind. It showcases the many trials and tribulations of the human condition, for good and for ill, and proves that just because people don’t exactly get along as well as they should, it doesn’t stop them from creating beautiful music together.  Great harmonies, and beautifully layered sounds, from Lindsey Buckingham’s persistent guitar and equally persistent vocals opening off the album with “Second Hand News,” Stevie Nicks singing to us about “Dreams,”  which discusses the somewhat futile games we can sometimes play with love, with such frankness and honesty that you really don’t get from many bands these days.  And the song “Don’t Stop” always helps add a spring to your step, knowing things can’t be crappy all the time.  One of my favorite songs is “The Chain,” if for no other reason than the amazing bass part in the bridge section.  And to end the album with the hauntingly beautiful and somber styling of “Gold Dust Woman,” really leaves the listener with a profound feeling of the complexity found within even the simplest of human emotions.  Rumours may be bad a lot of the time, but they sure make good songs!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ygj7tawGiug

4.The Decemberists-The King is Dead: From the simple to the complex, and equally accessible among Indie and mainstream ears, Colin Melloy and company’s new album definitely has a lighter sound, but never lacks the beautiful vocals, and folkie sensibilities that made us all fall in love with them in the first place.  They know how to rock, they know how to roll, and most important of all, know how to give themselves and everyone else tunes that are both catchy and artistically satisfying.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Waz7PMZHeg

5.Massive Attack-Protection: A great ambient disc from the masters of Triphop.  A great chill-out album!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Epgo8ixX6Wo

6.Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band-The Beatles:  I haven’t really been listening to this album all that much lately except for today.  I don’t own it on a non-vinyl format at the moment, and haven’t really had enough free time to play LPs lately. But this album wins every time.  It features my all-time favorite tracks, “Fixing a Hole,” and “A Day In The Life. And like the other album I mentioned earlier, this truly is a genre changer. And the fact that this remains so fresh and innovative on all subsequent listens, at nearly forty four years old, it cements the timelessness of this.  If I wanted to I would include this in all of my countdowns.  Did I mention I have two copies?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3MQYNdj9b9I

7.What’s Goin’ On?- Marvin Gaye: This album has it all.  Beautiful production and mixing, unconventional instrumentation, songs that melt seamlessly into one another, a universal theme of love(for the planet itself, which will die without our help, love for one another as brother and sister, father and mother, and even religious devotion) and spoken word parts that seem to cement this as a major progenitor of Hip Hop masters to come, such as Mos Def(who seems to sample many Marvin Gaye things in his album, The New Danger,” or The Roots, who helped bring the playing of instruments back to the forefront of Hip-Hop.  Maybe I suggest too much, and maybe I don’t. But all the same, if you have yet to experience the beauty of this album, please jump in by all means.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tOpwgrqshU

8.CAKE-Showroom of Compassion: The second 2011 release featured this week.  Contains the peculiar vocal stylings we have come to expect from them, the creative lyrics, and an amazing showcase of diverse influences, from 60’s psychedelia, to fuzzy synths, countryesque  love songs, and beyond.  They never cease to amaze with solid walls of sound.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kx902fZL7Y4

9.Anais Mitchell- The Brightness: In the Vermont native’s 2007 debut, we are faced with a unique blend of pixie-voiced folk, classic jazz motifs, and songs that remind me of my dreams of Broadway, such as “Of A Friday Night,” and “Hades and Persephone,” later used in her second album, Hadestown, which is a full on folk-opera, featuring Ben Knox Miller of The Low Anthem, Ani Difranco, and other awesome artists.  I encourage any fans of melodic mellowness to indulge in The Brightness.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8DNBBtwWWf4

10.The Bends-Radiohead:  The second album by everyone’s favorite genre defiers(maybe second to The Beatles), features great songs, such as: “Fake Plastic Trees,” “My Iron Lung,” the titular, “The Bends,” as well as the haunting and creepily pretty closing track, “Street Spirit(Fade Out).  Distorted Guitars? Check.  Thom Yorke’s unusual vocal quality? Check.  Themes of alienation and self-hatred? Check.  A blend of rockers, mellow introspective pop, and dreamy sound layers? Check, check, and check!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKd06s1LNik

11.Spring Awakening Original Cast Recording- Music by Duncan Sheik, Lyrics by Steven Sater:  One of my favorite musicals of the last decade.  A cast composed entirely of younger singers, a simple story about growing up and facing the scary changes all around.  A somewhat antiquated setting, yet the teenagers voice their thoughts as pop/rock songs.  Simplicity is not always the answer, but in this scenario it is nothing other than a winner. I admit to actually being a GLEE fan, but wonder why everyone is so obsessed with Lea Michelle because of it. Nothing she has done on that show has been anywhere near as good as what can be heard on this cast recording.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7JCoA92y24A

well that’s it until next time, let me know what y’all think!!  And next time I promise more shout-outs and even more zany surprises than you have yet seen.

-Me

Illuminations

February 6, 2011

WAL MART Stores Inc. released a new ruling from their corporate office in Arkansas saying that inclement weather will no longer be an excuse for missing work. After all of those damn storms, is when you change your mind? Knowing there are more to come? Aren’t your hands already dirty enough?