Posts Tagged ‘Music’

A Star Is Born (2018)

April 22, 2019

I used to really love to sing when I was much younger. Although, “used to” is not exactly an accurate term to use here. I still love to sing but mostly on my own in my car or in the shower just because the music I am listening to moves me. Sometimes I will sing from memory when I am nervous or high strung. But I used to sing in front of people. For years I was in the chorus at school and I only slightly let the fact that I was placed in with the sopranos bother me. I was the only guy in the soprano section but I just soldiered on. Nobody teased me but ingrained gender bias is a difficult psychological obstacle for a young boy. Later, I joined the church choir and I was tentatively put in with the baritones. In order to secure that position, I started purposefully singing an octave lower so I was not moved to sing with the girls. Finally, the director had it and told me if I was not going to sing correctly, I should not sing. She told me this at a performance at a senior center. During the performance, I just stood there with my mouth closed. That was my last day in the church choir.

Still, even if I had soured on singing in a group, I still sometimes toyed with the idea of public singing. Now, I have not really ever told anybody this before but at some point, I had fantasies of being a singer for a rock band. I really love the energy and rhythm of rock and roll and I often cannot help but sing along to it. Now, I entertained these fantasies knowing full well that I do not have an amazing voice or the inclination to practice that skill. I also had (have) crippling stage fright that would have made being the frontman of a band either impossible or incredibly unenjoyable. Even so, I would listen to my albums and close my eyes and sing along. The only thing encouraging me is the observation that went around my childhood home since I can remember. I believe it was my mother who pointed out that there were a lot of rock and roll singers who did not have the best voices or trained musical talent. What made them great was that they poured their entire heart into singing and succeeded from pure charm and energy. It was encouraging at the time but I am happy where I ended up.

A quick note here: I have not seen the other versions of this movie yet so I have nothing to compare this movie to. Of course, the point of this movie is the music. From the jump, I loved the bluesy rock and country that Bradley Cooper plays. I am a sucker for riffing guitars and chugging bass and he does a good job of that performance I was talking about above. He might not be the most polished but he is putting his whole heart into the performance. In other scenes, he gives more of a refined performance so that you really believe that he is a professional musician. Lady Gaga is, of course, a great singer. She is a proven commodity in the recording industry and her growth from her beginnings really shows here. She sings big musical show numbers and intimate ballads with the same talent. She also sings some songs in her usual pop style. Her rendition of La Vie En Rose (a personal favorite song of mine) was especially mindblowing. There is definitely a gap in their talent levels but it was not nearly as wide as I thought it would be. In addition, all of the music is sung live which definitely gives it more of a dynamic and energetic feel. The music is co-written by Willie Nelson’s son Lukas Nelson.

I was completely surprised at how good of an actress Lady Gaga was. I had seen a bit of her in American Horror Story: Hotel but she spent much of the time looking gorgeous and aloof. Granted, I did not see a whole lot but she did not get much of a chance to really act. She immediately impressed me in this. She definitely proved to me (and obviously audiences and professional critics) that she has what it takes to play in the big leagues of Hollywood. Bradley Cooper has grown as an actor and he continues to be able to transform himself in each role. In some of my favorite movies, he is a gay man, a space raccoon, and an FBI agent. In this movie, he plays a character that I am very familiar with. He is a troubled asshole who is super charismatic. Sam Elliott is, of course, a great actor as well. He is great at playing that gruff, grumpy guy you cannot help but like. There were also surprising performances from Greg Grunberg, Dave Chapelle, and Andrew Dice Clay of all people.

Overall, I thought this was a really good movie. These sorts of dramas are not really my cup of tea but everybody puts in endearing performances. While it is not a happy movie, it is a movie about seeking hope and redemption. When you are dealing with alcoholics and addicts, hope and redemption are rare. You do not always get a happy ending but they are definitely worth fighting for. This is not a happy movie but it is definitely a ride worth taking. There is also a fantastic soundtrack full of some great songs. The genres of country, rock, and pop are all well-represented. If nothing else, check out the soundtrack for a total of 19 songs.

Playlists

April 18, 2019

Over four months ago, my good friend Joe passed away in his sleep. As I had previously stated, one of the things that we shared was a love for music. Though we sometimes argued over what constituted “good” music, we agreed that music was good. One of the things he did was curate playlists on YouTube like people used to make mixtapes. This year I decided to start making my own playlists of my favorite music. I add to them from time to time but I also go on music binges trying to pump them up so I can put them on in the background sometimes. Below are three of them that I have worked on the most but I have so many more I want to create.


Rap


Pop Music


Hard Rock

So what do you think I am missing? What other playlists should I create?

(Written on 4/13/19)

Musical Gimmicks

April 15, 2019

WILPW

Obviously, music has been tied to professional wrestling for a long time. It started in the 1950s but really hit its stride in the seventies and eighties with the marriage of rock and wrestling. This basically amounted to music playing as performers entered the ring and when they won a match. Also, music was obviously used in promos and advertisements. Later, I heard stories about music videos that were produced for Smoky Mountain Wrestling to introduce new members of the roster. Music is a powerful force that can provide a lot of information through tone and lyrics in a short amount of time and minimal effort. Also, a performer’s entrance music fires the crowd up and lets them know who is showing up so they can cheer or boo appropriately. However, what I want to talk about today are professional wrestlers who are actually musical.

Though, I actually want to start with those gimmicks that were music adjacent but actually rarely showed much musical skill. As usual on these overviews, I will probably expose some gaps in my knowledge but enjoy the ride and educate me in the comments if you must. First in this group is the Honky Tonk Man. Honky was a master at making people hate him but he was also a guitar-wielding, Elvis-inspired performer. He hit more people with his guitar more than he ever played it. Speaking of hitting people with a guitar, there was also Jeff Jarrett. He was supposed to be a country music musician who wanted to use pro-wrestling as a platform to become a star as improbable as that sounds. He never sang a word and he broke hundreds of guitars throughout his career. Funny enough, his entrance song was sung by another wrestler Jesse James but the WWF never went anywhere with that. I also think of people like Jillian Hall who did a tone-deaf pop singer gimmick, squealing into a microphone to the delight of nobody.

But no, I am here to talk about those with actual skill. The first that I want to talk about is John Cena. Those who only know him as a meme or as a Hollywood personality might not know his past in the early 2000s. Back then, he changed from being a fairly normal guy into a white rapper gimmick. I am sure there are many who would be surprised to know that he was a very competent rapper. It started with him recording his entrance theme “Basic Thuganomics” and doing 8 Mile-esque rap battles on Smackdown. He was dubbed the Doctor of Thuganomics and then he recorded his album which included a lot of great tracks including the aforementioned “Word Life” and “Bad, Bad Man”. His rap career started to fade away as his gimmick evolved but he did record his now iconic theme song of “My Time is Now” which a lot of people might recognize from the popular John Cena meme. Every so often, he breaks out the rap and stretches those muscles. Just recently at Wrestlemania 35, he got back in his Doctor of Thuganomics gear and laid a rap down on Elias.

Who is Elias? Well, he is what happens if you take Jeff Jarrett’s gimmick and you actually give it to a talented musician. Elias started down in NXT as The Drifter Elias Samson. He was a drifting musician who played the guitar down to the ring and was booed for slowing down the action for an impromptu concert. Eventually, the songs he sang did their best to insult the crowd. He eventually moved up to the Raw roster where he continued to “drift” around, playing his guitar. Eventually, he proved himself to be a really talented pro-wrestler and a very talented musician. He sang a lot of impromptu songs to insult the audience and his opponents. Like Cena, he actually released an album Walk With Elias (which he claims is what WWE stands for). He continues to impress with his music but lately every time he tries to play he gets interrupted. He is getting more chances to show off his in-ring skill which is great.

Probably the most successful is Chris Jericho. He earned a reputation as an artist in the squared circle. He has constantly reinvented himself over and over to change with the times. However, all during his career, he was always a huge fan of heavy metal. He idolized all of the greats but his dream of professional wrestling came first. However, in a weird real-life twist on the Jeff Jarrett gimmick, his fame from being a WWE superstar started to get him attention from a lot of his idols in professional music. He started to make friends with a lot of these guys and they saw that he was as passionate about music as he was about pro-wrestling. He was not just some wannabe singer who might assemble a band as a vanity project. He wanted to be an actual heavy metal singer. He was able to put together a band named Fozzy which is still touring today. They have put out numerous albums and they play huge concerts and festivals all of the time. Now, he has been able to extend his pro-wrestling career by balancing it with his music career which will probably allow him to do both for as long as he wants.

There are plenty of people who sang their own entrance themes. Shawn Michaels re-recorded his theme song (“Sexy Boy”) with his vocals. R Truth raps his way down to the ring live, showing without a doubt that he has some skills. There was famously the West Texas Rednecks (a group in WCW) who sang a song called “Rap is Crap” which actually charted and was played on the radio. Tyler Breeze recorded a theme song which is an ode to his gimmick as a supermodel and an actual banging electronica song. Meanwhile, Mickie James has recorded two Country albums and is working on a third which is why she has been away from the ring for a while. I am sure this list will continue to expand as the years go by and the stars of pro-wrestling get better at diversifying their talents. We already have plenty of pro-wrestlers in Hollywood, why not some who get a Grammy eventually?

(Written on 4/10/19)

Jamming

April 11, 2019

Kath sat against the cool stone of the mini storage place on Elm Street. In the late afternoon, the sun had shifted so that she was now sitting in the shade. A kind stranger had gotten her a cool drink so she felt revitalized, ready to keep playing her guitar for the people. Her case was once again open in front of her, already jangling from the morning’s tips. She had pocketed some to encourage people to keep donating to her cause. The morning had been alright but she needed to keep going.

She was tooling her way through an acoustic version of AC/DC’s Thunderstruck. It had attracted some attention but it was a bit too hot out for anyone to linger to listen. The best she got was a few dollar bills, some quarters, some thumbs up, and one very good set of metal horns. It was not bad for a workday in the summer. She wondered how long she would have to play before taking shelter from the heat once again. She hoped she could go the distance.

A piece of paper fell into her case as she was starting into a Cat Stevens medley she had put together. The piece of paper was not green. Kath stopped playing and, out of curiosity, she leaned over to pick it up. She unfolded the sheet and saw that it was sheet music. She was a little confused. She looked up and saw a tall, thin man with wiry hair and big glasses. Before Kath could even open her mouth, the man spoke.

“Can you sight read?” the man asked.

“I can,” Kath said patiently. “I’m actually classically trained.”

“Are you very proficient?” the man asked, narrowing his eyes as he scrutinized her.

“Again, I’m classically trained,” Kath said. “I’m pretty good if I say so myself.”

“This needs to be played with absolutely perfect precision,” the man said. “No mistakes. ‘Pretty good’ is not good enough.”

“Did you want me to play this?” Kath asked. “What is it?”

“Only if you are sufficiently proficient,” the man said. “You’re not a spy, are you?”

“Who are you?” Kath asked, laughing a little bit.

“I don’t see how that matters,” the man said. “Can you play it? Perfectly?”

“My name is Kath,” Kath said and stuck her hand out to shake hands. “Some people call me Kath Kat. And you are?”

“Can you play the song or not?” The man asked.

Kath paused for a moment and stared at the man. “And you are?”

There was another long pause.

“Fine,” the man said. “You may call me Edgar.”

“Nice to meet you, Edgar,” Kath said. “So you want me to play this song? Is it special?”

“More than you realize,” Edgar said, pushing his glasses back onto the bridge of his nose.

“Did you write it?” Kath asked.

Edgar’s eyes narrowed again. “You never answered whether or not you are a spy.”

“I’m a music major,” Kath said. “and I’m not a spy.”

“Fair enough,” Edgar said. “I suppose whatever you said I could not verify your claim. Things have progressed and I must test my hypothesis. Before you ask, it is too complicated to explain.”

“Fair enough,” Kath echoed. “So should I play the song now?”

“Begin the experiment,” Edgar said. “Whenever you are ready, of course.”

Kath grinned and shook her head before taking a deep breath. She scanned the notes on the page and looked for any surprises or tricky bits. It was all surprises and tricky bits. This was unlike any music she had ever played before. For a moment, she wondered if she was proficient enough. She shook it off and arranged her fingers and began to play. She gave her all into and out of her guitar came strangely beautiful discordant music. Each note reverberated through her being and the air around them. She could almost feel the pressure waves from each and every note.

She wondered how other people on the street might be reacting to the weird music. She looked up and saw Edgar hurriedly writing on a pad of paper he had fished out from a pocket. He looked excited. She looked to her right and saw a tall shadowy being walking on two legs, Edgar stepped out of its way, snapping pictures of it with his phone. She saw a bird with two sets of wings swoop by, plucking a cockroach off the side of the building across the street. The building seemed to be covered with cockroaches. To her left was another group of those shadowy figures. The landscape around her seemed to flicker and change like static on a television set. She reached the bottom of the page and stopped playing and it all stopped. It was just a normal city street again.

“What the hell was that?” Kath asked. She stood up and looked around wildly.

“The other dimension,” Edgar said. “The experiment worked!”

“Um,” Kath said. “What does that mean?”

“Please come back to my lab,” Edgar said. “We have to keep going.”

“Sure,” Kath said. “I guess I can’t just walk away from that. I’m inviting a friend, though. No offense.”

“None taken,” Edgar said. “They’re not a spy, are they?”

Kath shook her head with a laugh. “No.”

Ninja Sex Party

April 16, 2018

Over two years ago, I started to fool around with YouTube. The platform is really great for people to self-publish. With less time and money to actually play a lot of video games, I discovered that I could watch others play them on YouTube via Let’s Play videos. Among the content creators I found, I still watch the Game Grumps (Arin Hanson and Danny Avidan). When I found out that Danny was also in a band, I had to check it out. At the time, he was the singer and one half of a band called Ninja Sex Party. All of their music videos were on YouTube so I could easily see what they were all about. I was an instant fan. Part of that was who the members of the band were.

Leigh Daniel Avidan was always a weird, fun-loving guy. At least, that is what I take away from all of the stories I have heard from him. He loved music from an early age and it shows. While he never had that much formal training, he grew up wanting to do something with music. His parents nurtured that creativity and joyous spirit and Danny first joined The Northern Hues and then later Skyhill as a singer. Both were serious music acts. After he left Skyhill, he searched for a new band to sing for. In the meantime, he started to take classes from Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theatre in New York. While he was there, he met Brian (more on him later) and realized that comedy and music could be his path forward. While Danny seems like a kind soul, the character he portrays is definitely not while still being a fun-loving guy. While in NSP, he dubbed himself “Danny Sexbang”. He is a character who is at once arrogant and pathetic. He brags of how awesome he is but the reality quickly reveals how wrong he is. His character practically begs for sex, gets in trouble for his big mouth, and just ends up being comically bad at everything (except singing, of course). His stage outfit was originally based on Owen Hart’s Blue Blazer persona.

The other half of Ninja Sex Party is Brian Wecht. Brian was a geeky and brilliant guy as he grew up. He was a constant valedictorian who had a wicked sense of humor. He had formal training in music in college but he also really got into quantum physics and eventually got a PhD in particle physics. It was around this time that he met Danny while doing some comedy music gigs and working as a postdoc. While he started NSP with Danny, he was also starting a family and searching for teaching positions. He eventually became a professor in England, a position he eventually quit so he could do NSP full-time. His comedy comes from a sarcastic, dry place as he is well known for playing pranks and taking the piss out of his friends. He is NSP’s keyboardist and chief composer. The character he created is “Ninja Brian”, a silent ninja who covers his face and tends to enjoy murdering people as much as he likes playing music. His silent act is a great contrast to Danny’s loud and boisterous nature kind of like famous acts like Penn and Teller or The Marx Brothers.

The duo started as a comedy music act and they took gigs wherever they could. Eventually, they started writing songs to release on an album. Being friends with a lot of people on YouTube, they made a lot of connections and started to put out music videos. At the beginning, it was just the two of them. Brian was on keyboard and a lot of his sound was similar to stuff being done in Chiptune genre. The music was bouncy and fun. Danny’s vocals are great because he has a really rich voice and at some point he developed a process of doubling his voice by recording multiple tracks. In a time when everybody was being autotuned, he came up with a different method to stand out a bit. Their songs were written together, often with them spitballing song titles or lyrics at each other to see what made them laugh the most. Their songs were full of purposefully juvenile humor, songs about sex from characters who have never had it and were also full of cartoon violence. Their music videos are colorful and often as nonsensical and weird as their songs.


Take on Me

In late 2015, they were really growing their brand. They had three albums out and their style was really evolving and they were gaining legions of fans. I went and saw them in their first official concert at Magfest where they had their biggest crowd yet. At the time, they were just releasing an album of covers of music from the seventies and eighties. In order to do so, they decided to team up with another band named Tupperware Remix Party to provide more to their sound. This added drums, guitar, bass guitar, and a second keyboard to their sound along with background vocals. This added so many new layers to their sound and having a few non-comedy songs to sing at gigs did not hurt either. Their relationship with TWRP only grew and the two bands became intertwined with Danny providing vocals on some of TWRP’s songs. For the first time, the two groups were regularly touring together and that grew their audience even more.


Cool Patrol

Some might look at a band like Ninja Sex Party and roll their eyes and dismiss the band as juvenile. I see them as two guys who love to have fun and put out a kind of humor that is highly accessible. I look at their chief inspirations, Weird Al Yankovich and Tenacious D. While Weird Al wrote clean lyrics, both bands have silly and crazy lyrics. Also, both bands have developed larger than life characters that they play instead of being exaggerated versions of themselves. Their lyrics are clever and the humor behind them is a great example of self-deprecation. Both Danny and Brian are inspired by bands like Lonely Island, Flight of the Conchords, Weird Al, Tenacious D, but also non-comedy bands like Rush. The band continues to work toward getting better and better and it shows with each new release. They have further integrated TWRP as their touring band and they have really stepped up their songwriting. It is clear that Brian and Danny are both ambitious. They recently released a new cover album and are set to release their fourth album of original songs. So go out and check them out. If they are not your jam, then at least let me thank you for allowing me to gush about them a bit.

Heavy Metal

April 10, 2017


Metallica – Blackened

The very first album I owned was a tape of Metallica’s And Justice for All. It was mine but only because my parents bought it for me. I did not really know much about Metallica, but I wanted to get something different from what my parents were listening to. It is not that I disliked The Rolling Stones or Lynyrd Skynyrd but I wanted to find my own thing too. When my dad let me put the tape in his car as he drove, I felt like my voice was being listened to. The music blew my tiny mind. I had never really experienced the loud, raucousness of heavy metal music. The guitar work was amazing and energetic and I felt like James Hetfield was yelling right into my brain. I felt like we were driving two hundred miles per hour and I loved it.


Black Sabbath – War Pigs

Black Sabbath are often known as one of the progenitors of heavy metal as a genre and in particular, they helped start the doom metal subgenre. Like Metallica, their music and vocals reverberated inside of me. I sang along to Ozzy or Dio as I tried to study and later as I drove my crappy first car in high school. I loved the epicness of each song. One of the first albums I bought with my allowance was the Ozzman Cometh: Greatest Hits. It was actually a UK import that came with some additional tracks including the awesome Faeries Wear Boots. As an angsty teen, I really got behind the darkness in Black Sabbath’s tone and lyrics. It was so unlike everything we had to listen to in school and what my parents listened to.


Flyleaf – Cassie

I would be remiss if I did not talk about the women of heavy metal. The first female metal band that I discovered was Kittie and I was instantly enamored by Fallon Bowman’s classic heavy metal death growl mixed with more melodic singing. At some point, somebody clued me into other bands and I discovered Flyleaf. I figured that them being a Christian band was roughly equivalent to all the bands I listened to that talked a lot about Hell so I put that aside. I now seek out female vocalists in heavy metal and hard rock (I have two Pandora stations for this) as I love the mix of a strong female voice with heavy metal instrumentals. Lately, I have found more modern outfits like The Agonist, Battle of Mice and The Birthday Massacre all of which let their genres bleed a bit.


Iron Maiden – Number of the Beast

As I got older, I not only sought out new stuff but I looked for stuff from the past that had not been played on the radio. I became a big fan of Iron Maiden and some other great bands from overseas. I had already been a fan of bands like The Scorpions and Pantera but I was deep into discovering stuff new to me. I really got into Rammstein when they briefly poked their heads into the American mainstream. I discovered Dio’s post-Black Sabbath band Heaven and Hell which quickly became a favorite (along with his solo work, of course). Thanks to Chris Jericho and the video game Brutal Legend, I found even more new and old heavy metal bands to listen to. I discovered all sorts of different flavors of heavy metal and I am still discovering new stuff.


LADYBABY – Nippon Manju

Of course, as music continues, genres keep bleeding into each other. Artists seek out new takes on older musical styles and try to produce new stuff. It was one day on Facebook of all places where somebody posted a band called Babymetal. Their intention was to mock and surprise us about what the music industry has come to. I was actually inspired. I had already been sort of a fan of vocaloid and Japanese pop music since the early 2000s but the two genres had a baby called “kawaii metal” which also includes Ladybaby and Dazzle Vision among others. Around this same time, I also got into the combination of heavy metal and comedy, mostly through the band Steel Panther. A lot of heavy metal bands go on about satan or dark powers in their lyrics to evoke the forbidden for the sake of rebelliousness (and probably to scare parents). Steel Panther does much the same with rampant misogyny. It is a parody of the oversexualized lyrics of bands like AC/DC or Van Halen. I have to say that if these lyrics were not done as parody then I would be boycotting them no matter how good their instrumentals are. They are not for the lighthearted but they can be pretty funny.


Steel Panther – Death To All But Metal (Explicit)

Clarinet

April 4, 2017


Ah Clarinet, you’re not safe in my hands.

When I was in grade school, there were a couple requirements each year. Starting in the fourth grade, we had to join the band. Now, my only experience with playing an instrument before then was struggling to play a recorder along with all of my classmates. The recorder might be one of the most annoying instruments in the hands of a child. I do not remember why but in the summer before fourth grade, I chose the clarinet as my instrument. The thing came in four pieces with a replaceable reed. I was not overjoyed with having to stick a piece of wood in my mouth several times a week. I am also not a performer. I was not thrilled about having to play music in front of people.


We played the old standards.

We obtained our instruments and assembled to practice. I was terrible. I was completely confused as to how the thing worked. Confusion led to frustration and a lot of stress. I really did not want to play a musical instrument but it was a requirement that we had to fulfill. It helped that all my friends had to do it too. To my parents’ credit, they tried their best to help me. They got me lessons at one point and for a time, I think they helped. I at least knew how to make sound with the thing. The fingering is where I was having trouble.


My training equipment.

I have excellent hand-eye coordination. I have been playing video games since I was a tiny boy. Through the power of Nintendo and Sega, my fingers were pretty nimble. In addition, I had taken typing lessons from a very early age. Everything I had said that my fingers should be able to move quite dexterously up and down a clarinet. And yet, I could not seem to get it right. This was also about the time that I started to slowly succumb to a respiratory problem I was born with. Of course, at the time we still thought it was asthma. Now that I think about it, the physical effort of playing increasing might have made me not want to play.


I was falling apart, musically.

As it was, I moved into the fifth grade with no interest in the clarinet. I had no ambitions of being a great musician. As far as I can remember, the lessons had stopped. It was for the best, they would have mostly been a waste of money. I am not sure when I started doing it but I began to play random notes rather than read the music. Time signatures and rhythm are easy for me but I was not into reading actual notes. I would just blow into the clarinet and unleash sound no matter if it was correct or not. It was a mistake. Our band leader was really smart. Eventually, he heard something wrong much the way I learned to do through my training in sound design.


These were a godsend until I eventually quit band altogether.

One by one he made each clarinet player play. When he got to me, it was now obvious what I had been doing. He called me out in front of everyone and I was mortified. All my friends knew that I was just dicking around and I was so embarrassed. I tried my best after that but thankfully, they finally sent me in for surgery. For the rest of the year, there was no way I could play because my lungs were still recovering. It was not a fun time but the silver lining was that I did not have to play clarinet anymore. When I returned to band, they let me into the percussion section. I loved percussion. It is where I should have been in the first place (except I lacked the necessary piano training). The capper on the story is that I learned this year that my mother did the exact same thing with the clarinet when she was growing up. I just had to laugh so hard.

Jazz

April 12, 2016

I like Jazz music a lot. It was some of the first music that I used to expand my horizons beyond what was popular when I was a kid and what my parents were listening to. The genre has become connected with Thanksgiving and Christmas as it is neutral music that the whole family can listen to. Jazz is also often the ultimate chill music because even the hottest jazz can make me feel peaceful. So let’s explore some pieces that were formative in my jazz education.


Scott Joplin – Maple Leaf Rag

I remember being loaned a history of Jazz cd from our library in my freshman year of high school. I don’t remember why the librarian handed it to me but I don’t remember asking for it. I copied it and I remember listening to that CD all the time. I remember lying in bed and listening to this track over and over and just trying to let the teen angst drain out of me. Later I would fall in love with the soundtrack from The Sting.


Ella Fitzgerald – Blue Skies

I discovered Ella in a music class during high school. By this point (and later in college) music classes were largely spent sitting and listening to music and having a teacher explain it to us. It was both the easiest and the hardest class sometimes. Anyway, one day we sat listened to jazz music and we listened to Billie Holiday who I liked but I really liked Ella Fitzgerald. She has a certain joy to her voice that is absolutely inspiring.


Kenny Burrell – Chitlins Con Carne

At some point, I was introduced to stuff beyond elementary Jazz by my friend Cooper. I always thought that Cooper was a bit of a Jazz snob but I realize now that he was just passionate about what he liked. He tried to educate me and I did like just about everything he gave me. Kenny Burrell made great, cool Jazz and I really liked discovering him. I may not have liked the more experimental stuff I was taught but I appreciate the education.


Sara Vaughn – Speak Low

When I went off to college, I went into a theater program where I studied how to be the best stage manager that I could be. While that was fun at first, I much preferred the design and production track and I found myself spending a lot of time there. I started to hang out in the sound studio and learned to become a bit of a professional sound designer. I worked on a 1920’s version of As You Like It and so I listened to a lot of Kurt Weill because the director was obsessed with this one song. Of course, Weill was a gateway to more theatrical jazz that is just great stuff.


The Oneups – Green Hill Zone

So I already told the story of my Magfest 2016 trip back in February and how I was going to attend a Ninja Sex Party/Tupperware Remix Party concert. While I was waiting for them to hit the stage a group called the Oneups hit the stage. It was a video game and music festival but it was the last place I thought I would encounter jazz music. It just goes to show you that even video game music can be jazz in the hands of the right musicians. Jazz is everywhere and so varied. Go out and find some good stuff.

I was going to end this post right here but in the interest of proving my point about always discovering new music I pushed a little deeper. I thought I’d randomly pull up three tracks that are new to me.

Pharoah Sanders – You’ve Got To Have Freedom

David Gilmour – The Girl in the Yellow Dress

Crusaders – My Lady

Media Update 2/18/2016

February 18, 2016


Deadpool

I went into this movie with so much hype I was nervous that it wasn’t going to hold up. I like Ryan Reynolds a lot because he’s a funny and charismatic guy who seems to put everything he has into each role he gets. He has now been in five comic book movies and until now none of them were really considered a hit. Two of them were flops. Now, you may remember me defending X-Men Origins: Wolverine on this blog and I stand by that but I agree that it could have been much better. This was much, much better. This was maybe 300% better. Do yourself a favor and watch some of the promotional material for the movie such as the cancer PSAs or the Australia Day promo. Get yourself in the mood for a raunchy, silly movie. Don’t get me wrong, the movie also has a lot of heart too but it primarily made me laugh from beginning to end. See this movie. (But be warned it’s a hard, hard R movie)


Battleship

Wow. So I have to assign some blame here for this one before I begin. While sitting and waiting for Deadpool to start I mentioned I had not seen this movie. Afterward, my friend Liz suggested I watch it on FX that evening. So I did and you can tell already what I thought of it. However, the movie was not without merit. It was a very pretty movie as the effects were all professionally done and the cgi was very believable. The story was alright but it felt like it wandered a little. The movie is a love letter to the US navy but alot of the navy men and women came off as emotionless or just plain assholes. It reminded me, yet again, why I never went into any sort of armed service. The two main characters were unlikeable at best and the main main character should not have been in the movie past the frist fifteen minutes. The movie was way too long and I would have cut at least 45 minutes by eliminating characters and plotlines. Stay away from this movie unless you’re drunk among snarky friends.


Colony

So there seems to be a lot of Science Fiction shows that started up recently. As I’ve stated I’m not the biggest fan of science fiction because it gets a little bogged down in talking about technology. I prefer science fantasy but I will give science fiction a fair shot if it looks interesting enough. Colony is about a world after aliens have successfully invaded and dominated the Earth. They killed a lot of people and divided the city we see so that any resistance cannot communicate and merge into a larger faction. The main character is a former FBI agent (or something equivalent) who is pressganged into working for the human representatives of the aliens. While he is working for the transitional government and trying to subvert it from the inside, his wife is working for the resistance. It’s kind of a sci-fi spy thriller but the emphasis is on the thriller part. It’s a pretty good show and, while I won’t be watching every week, I’m interested to see where it goes.

Links of the Week:
Neneh Cherry – Buffalo Stance
The Misfits – Where Eagles Dare
Fall Out Boy – Alone Together
Deadpool Australia Day
Neil Degrasse Tyson – Diss Track

Weekly Updates:
– I am going to Magfest tomorrow
– I am watching a lot of Lucha Underground
– I’m watching the Indiana Jones Mythbusters episode right now
– I ran into somebody deprived of TV during their childhood
– The above person did not know Family Feud
– Not much else to talk about today

Media Update 6/25/2015

June 25, 2015

Not much new to discuss this week as I’ve been watching a lot of the same stuff that I’ve mentioned before. However…


Jimmy Buffet: Workin’ and Playin’ Concert Tour

Last Saturday we took my mom to see Jimmy Buffet in concert in Bristow, VA in honor of her 60th birthday which was last year. Several plans fell through when trying to find the appropriate way to celebrate but, thanks to my brother Alex, we were able to celebrate in style anyway.

The adventure started by driving out to Bristow and the Jiffy Lube Live Pavillion. My mom put together a lot of barbecue and we proceeded to tailgate along with pretty much everybody else in attendance. Of course, my mom also made what I call “Orange Margaritas” which are full of ground up oranges, limes, lemons and what tastes like roughly all of the alcohol. I was buzzed after one cup. The tiredness I had felt from the humidity vanished and I took it upon myself to find my brother who had driven separately.

After using the power of Bon Jovi to reunite with Alex, we all continued to chow down on barbecue and drink margaritas. About fifteen minutes later there was a tornado warning and we barely got back into the car before a torrential downpour swept through the area. With no twitter updates from the venue, we were left with the dilemma of whether we should try to head inside or stay in the car. Eventually, the rain slacked off and we headed to our seats which were safely covered from the rain.

Eight o’clock hit which is when the concert was scheduled to start and Jimmy and some of the Coral Reefers hit the stage to lots of cheers but no pomp and circumstance. Jimmy launched into his version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” in honor of our near misses from tornadoes and the passing storm. Afterward, he announced a delay of about fifteen minutes. This was super classy as he gave us a little treat instead of having somebody make the announcement over a PA system.

The concert eventually started and it was really great. Jimmy Buffett is a great performer and seems like a guy who just loves to entertain and have a good time. He actually played a lot of songs that I hadn’t heard before and covers of other musicians I had heard before. Notably, he played “5 O’Clock Somewhere” by Alan Jackson which makes sense as Jackson has played Margaritaville in concert. I sang along to the songs I knew and bounced to the rhythm and I had a great time and so did the rest of the family.

The place had a real party atmosphere and I definitely was entertained by the crowd sometimes as much as the entertainers on stage. I’d like to shout out to three guys in particular. The first I call “White Guy Dancer” who was directly in front of me. He danced to every song with a lot of passion but no skill or rhythm. The other two guys I call the “Buffet Bros” who looked younger than me with shaved heads. They did loosely choreographed dance routines to each song and fist pounded each other like true bros. They were weird but harmless.

If I had any complaint, it was that the vocals were mixed a little too low as I would have loved to hear the lyrics of the songs I was unfamiliar with. It was super fun and I was exhausted by the end, riding home with my ears ringing but knowing my mom was happy with her present.


Adventures of a MathBrat

Random Things I Find Energy To Blog About

Boccob's Blessed Blog

A gaming blog with an emphasis on D&D 5e

Wolfenoot

No Hate Only Snootboops

As Told By Carly

The Ramblings of a Geek Girl

Beyond the Flow

A Survivor's Philosophy of Life

Silvia Writes

Life is a story. Might as well write it.

An Artist’s Path

Art, Poetry, Spirituality & Whimsy

The Bloggess

Bizarre thoughts from author Jenny Lawson - Like Mother Teresa, only better.

Silence Killed The Dinosaurs

Comics, Stories, Dinosaurs, Cats

Damyanti Biswas

For lovers of reading, writing, travel, humanity

An Empire of Stories

Where fiction comes to life

DMing With Charisma

Stories, Reviews and Opinions!

%d bloggers like this: