Improbable Phrases

Who says that?

I’m Going to Leave Solomon Burke Here, ‘Cause I’m Busy.

Well, it’s Saturday, so you can dance for racial equality while I pack/panic.



A Recommendation

Christopher Tin is a composer who has worked for the last decade writing music for video games, commercials and films. He won a Grammy for a piece that he wrote for a video game. Now. Before you get all upset about the state of the world these days where people can get Grammys for writing background music for video games, I would like you to know, this is not some sort of 3 chord keyboard number. The piece that he wrote for a Civilization IV just happens to be a 4-part harmony, full orchestra version of the Lord’s Prayer in Swahili; sung by the Soweto Gospel Choir.

I like the idea of world music being combined with full orchestras and then placed on mainstream American video games. It puts a bit of culture where no one expects it. To me, this is the best kind of surprise, one that elevates the medium by giving it layers and nuance. Surprise! Not everything is awful and sold out to the “man.”

So. This month Christopher Tin came out with an album where all of the songs are themed around water. None of the songs are in English; all of them are fabulous. I am particularly taken with one called Temen Oblak, which is Bulgarian for Dark Clouds. It has a minor sound to it with very close harmonies. I couldn’t find a video of it that I loved, but there is this one of a choir that is fine, if more than a little blurry. No horn section, either, but you can’t expect that of a typical choir performance.

My point is this. I can fully endorse the awesome of Christopher Tin’s work. He has two albums out, both of them fabulous and less than $15 on iTunes. Check them out.

Free Music!

I got an email today from my PNC Visa card letting me know that I had enough rewards points to get, among other options, a $50 iTunes gift card for free. As that I had no idea I was getting points from my Visa, nor any real idea of what I would do with them, I got the gift card. Free music for me!

I bought Rodrigo y Gabriela‘s newest album, 9 Dead Alive.

You can watch them play here. They are fabulous and passionate musicians. I didn’t know I could like guitar music so much.

I also got Nickel Creek‘s newest album, A Dotted Line.

Their song “Love of Mine” reminds me most of the things that were on their other albums. I am enjoying the album in general, they haven’t lost anything in the decade since they last recorded.

I bought a few other individual songs and I have money left on my account, too! Who knew that my credit card could get me free music? Hey, it was that or an Outback Steakhouse gift card, which I did not want at all. I’ll take it.

Signal Boost

Not that he needs it. This is the MTV Artist of the Week from March 21st. He mixes traditional Apsaalooke (Crow) Nation music with contemporary rap. In this video he is in a traditional dance outfit and does a little dance work at the end.

5 Things Make a Post

I don’t have enough on any one of these things to devote a whole post, so it’s a conglomeration of 5 different things that I am recommending to you.

Thing 1: On io9 this week, a Canadian artist named Pascal Blanché was featured. I love the style of his work. I am especially impressed with this drawing, called Danu.


Source here.

The blue, cream, and orange color combination is lovely. The robotic look of the two figures has a rusty, old fashioned feel to it that I really like. The contrast in size between the tiny figure, which is set on a platform connected to the larger figure, is interesting in comparison to the sheer size of the other bald figure. I’m not sure what is happening here, but the strong and defiant stance of the littler figure against the placid expression of the large figure makes the scene seem sweet. It looks something like a meeting between parent and child, or maker and creation.

Thing 2: The story Found by Alex Dally MacFarlane, as read by Kate Baker for Clarkesworld Magazine. Source here. You can read the text on the page, or click on the speaker icon to have it read to you.

I subscribe to the Clarkesworld Magazine podcast specifically for gems like this story. The protagonist’s family raises and sells spices, and so the protagonist’s worldview is filtered through the lens of spices. She associates the places she visits with spices, she describes things she does or things that she sees in terms of the spices they remind her of. It’s a really lovely literary trick.

In addition to being a story about spices, it is also a story of unlikely hope. If you have 45 minutes, I really recommend it.

Thing 3:  This comedy about the lives of the people in a writer’s group who are trying to each get published looks like a lot of fun.

“You put a dog on the front cover instead of a lion!”

Thing 4: I am unable to make this because of a lack of access to some of the ingredients, like blue cheese, but it looks amazing. Plus, how ingenious is that blog name? So cute

Screen shot 2014-02-27 at 5.47.32 PM

Source here.

If you make this, let me know how it turns out.

Thing 5: This song by The Sea The Sea is amazing. I got a free download of it on NoiseTrade and I love it.

It’s called Love We Are We Love. The intricate way in which the lyrics mesh between the two voices is so lovely.

“Love what have we done? Was it a hammer or a fist? Feathers or a kiss?”

You can buy the whole album from their website or on iTunes. I absolutely recommend it. I plan on buying it this week.



The Problem with Saints by Neil Gaiman

I wish that Joan of Arc wouldn’t hang around the park
Pronouncing that she won’t get burned again
Her armour’s very shiny and her message is divine
But I wish she’d take a day off now and then

She said it clears your head when you come back from the dead
With your sword as sharp as anything that cuts
And to prove it she bisected three young tourists from Utrecht
Which rapidly displayed a lot of guts

She says we need to raise a brand new army
And the flag of France so proudly she unfurled
And the people that she hated will be neatly bifurcated
And the British will no longer rule the world

She says it was a mistake to let them burn her at the stake
And she learned a lesson back there in the flames
So she’s going to kill the queen and then she’ll rescue Old Orleans
And it’s really hard to hang around with saints

I think I ought to tell her that the English left in failure
And they don’t go back to France except on hols
But I saw her vivisect a man who wanted to correct her
And the playground soon resembled Grand Guignol

She says we need to raise a brand new army
And she marched us ’round until we couldn’t stand
She says the nation she abhors will soon be writhing on the floor
And the British will no longer rule her land

And she’s waiting for the dauphin who will come across the ocean,
And knows that God agrees with her complaints
So I’m hoping that she’ll ignore my English accent in her war
‘Cause it’s really hard to hang around with saints

She says we need to raise a brand new army
And the flag of France so proudly she unfurled
And the people that she hated will be neatly bifurcated
And the British will no longer rule
the British will no longer rule
the British will no longer rule the world!

Source here.

I am also in desperate love with this representation of Joan of Arc. She looks appropriately dangerous for this song, no?


Source here.

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Harry Nilsson Would So Approve

As that it has been particularly cold, windy, rainy, snowy, pick your unattractive weather attribute, I have not been doing a great deal in the last two months or so. Well, I’ve read some. Who’s not surprised?

This week we decided to go out to eat at a Thai place on Taylor, having selected it based on its proximity to us and to convenient bus routes.  Probably not the best way, but there you are.

I have no concept of Thai cuisine. So I chose something that had no onions. Friends, don’t even get me started on onions. I contend that you can make any number of perfectly good dishes without resorting to onions. Ugh, the rubbery crunch. Ew, ew, ew.

Aaaaand, moving on. 

I got the Lime Chicken, which in Mexican cuisine would be some sort of peppery and lime strips to put in a tortilla, and that would have been nice as well. In Thai cuisine, I got a perfectly sculpted mound of rice, like someone had dumped it out of a tea cup. I know this is popular, but whenever I see it, I always think: glue. And then I got a plate of mushrooms and chicken in a cream colored sauce. This was the Harry Nilsson part: the sauce was essentially lime juice and coconut milk mixed together. It was really good, not too sweet and I do love lime flavor. But that stupid song kept cycling through my head all throught the meal.  Though, as if that’s not bad enough, I should warn you that the link is worse, what with the GORILLAS and all. I have no idea why that’s the version that YouTube pulled up. It was between that and a Muppet version, which I won’t subject you to. You’re welcome. And also? I was archiving my emails recently and found an exchange where I had found a t-shirt based on the same song.

Photo courtesy of: shirt.woot!

Which is amusing, and less creepy to boot. Sorry about those gorillas, really.

I read:
Nation by Terry Prachett (I don’t know. It was too heavy-handed in its allegorical-ness. We get it. Racism is bad. Now, where’s the plot?)
Everyday Matters by Danny Gregory (Half memoir, half graphic novel. And so completely worth it. Love, love, love.)
The Yacoubian Building by Alaa Al Aswany (Novel about present day Egypt. It was sweet, interesting, well written, and then suddenly, gratuitously, violent at the end. I was a bit shocked.)
Ruby in Her Navel by Barry Unsworth (It’s historical fiction about an unlikely relationship. I should know better. Really.)
Sunshine by Robin McKinley (It was all about vampires without being really creepy and nightmare inducing. That, my friends, is what we call finesse.)
Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon (Two left in this series. Two left, and I can now tell when she’s about to go into a hair, hands, or some other repeated description, and I can skip it. Makes a 780 page book go quicker.)
Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri (Sereis of short stories. It’s on the list for the Tournament of Books, but I was underwhelmed. All of the stories were so similar: they were about things gone wrong, and general SADNESS, and all of them included an interracial relationship. I wanted more variety and less neat package tie-up.)