Monday, March 16, 2009

A Good Story

"Divorce" by Madison Arent, Cornell University
Published in Rainy Day, v. XXXVII, No. 1 / Winter 2009

Dad left that night. He didn't even stay. He clutched his brown leather briefcase. Its brass locks twinkled once. The house was dark. His back. I watched it as it went down the hall until the hall curved and he disappeared. But not to his and Mom's room. To some other room in some other house. With his brass locks and the little numbers on the dials that unlocked the briefcase. It was hard and clean. It smelled lonely and important. It was a perfect rectangle. The handles were hard too. The leather was stitched with thick twine. I liked to spin the dials. They had neat little ridges. I liked to play with the brass locks. Flipping them open and shut. They would snap into place. They knew exactly what they were doing and what they were supposed to do.

Good, eh?

Wolf Parade - Grounds for Divorce (Apologies to the Queen Mary, 2005)

Friday, February 6, 2009


Huun-Huur-Tu, the throat singers of Tuva, hearken from southern Siberia. They practice xöömei, or throat singing, and "transform the sounds of the natural world into music through imitation," making "sonic 'maps' of physical landscapes:" mountains, grasslands, wind, water, and light.

According to their website, "Tuvan music is not abstract, like most Western music, but radically representational, the product of a cult of imitation that ties it to an animistic understanding of the world."

Hell yes!

Oh, yeah, and they can sing two notes at the same time (see second video).

P.S. And they have something to do with Doc Fowler-precursor and physicist Richard Feynman! Go figure!

BUY The Orphan's Lament

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

One of the better things I've ever seen/heard

Want to cry?

Indulge yourself in watching this video of opera diva Jessye Norman performing the aria "Mon coeur s'ouvre a ta voix" from Saint-Saëns's Samson et Delila at Avery Fisher Hall in 1994. In this aria, Delilah attempts to seduce Samson.

I don't understand, then, why she sings a song so beautiful that it would bring him to tears...

Rita Gorr, Jon Vickers, Etc.; Georges Prêtre: Opéra De Paris - Mon Coeur S'Ouvre À Ta Voix from Samson et Delila, first performed in 1877

BUY the definitive version of Samson et Delila

Monday, February 2, 2009

Stealing from Tyler Cowen: "Worry less about releasing terrorists"

As you may have noticed, I'm constantly linking to Tyler Cowen's top-notch economics/miscellany blog, Marginal Revolution. So I've decided to come clean and call my actions by their name: stealing from Tyler Cowen.

Here's a post Cowen wrote a week ago on why we should stop freaking out about releasing terrorists from prison:

The total population of terrorists ebbs and flows all the time. When the number goes up by one hundred, no one much notices. If the number goes up by one hundred because we release some previously identified terrorists, there is or will be a public outcry. But it's the same consequence.

Fewer terrorists are better than more terrorists, to be sure. But a terrorist we release is not obviously worse than a terrorist who was free in the first place.

We evaluate outcomes differently when we feel we are in control or should be in control. We should examine this intuition carefully, since it is not always justified.

We also treat an outcome differently when we feel it allows an enemy of ours to "get back at us." I suspect this difference in feeling is not usually justified and that it is the primary driver behind the fear of releasing terrorists.

I can think of "political theater" reasons why an attack from a released terrorist would be worse than an attack from an "already free" terrorist. Overall I do not yet feel that we are thinking about this issue rationally.

I personally find this brief essay calming. How about you?

Television - See No Evil (Marquee Moon, 1977)

Architecture in Helsinki - It's 5! (In Case We Die, 2005)

Monty Python - Always Look on the Bright Side of Life (The Life of Brian, 1979 )

Friday, January 30, 2009

I stumbled upon Bunny's Yummies when, in a fit of narcissism, I googled my own blog. As it turns out, there exists a blog that goes by the URL: What a coincidence!

Bunny's Yummies is an Bloggie award-winning blog written by Bunny the baker aka Señor Pablo, and it is tremendously appetizing. About once a week, Bunny posts pictures of a delectable new pastry treat that you can ORDER (for realz). My favorite is last July's Sushi Birthday Cake. Mmmmmmm......

Some confectionery songs:

Serenaide - The Sweetest (The Other End of the Receiver, 2004/2005)

Vashti Bunyan - 17 Pink Sugar Elephants (A Pot By Any Other Name, 2001 (rec. 1966))

The Jesus and Mary Chain - Just Like Honey (Psychocandy, 1985)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

New Electro Sufjan Stevens: ONE DAY ONLY!

The Dark Was The Night charity double album looks like it will be amazing. Each day, they are streaming one track from their star-studded playlist on Myspace.

Check out Sufjan's phenomenal contribution here.

The compilation, produced by Aaron and Bryce Dressner of The National, is set to come out on February 17th. According to the Myspace page, proceeds will benefit "the Red Hot Organization - an international charity dedicated to raising funds and awareness for HIV and AIDS."

Feast your ears!

Bunny's Got a Crush on: Here We Go Magic

Here We Go Magic is a new band from Brooklyn led by Luke Temple. Their music is undulating and percussive, with hypnotizing loops, clean guitar, and high vocals. Imagine Animal Collective meets Grizzly Bear, and you have Here We Go Magic.

I know, awesome, right?

Or, you could go for the description written by test pilots:
Here We Go Magic falls into the category of artsy-genre-defying-experimental-folk-rock-pop. It may sound a little atypical, but you all know what I'm talking about. The kind of music that would be made by Williamsburg hippie hipsters while floating in outer space. And if you don't, just's good.

So take a listen!

Here We Go Magic - Tunnelvision

Here We Go Magic - I Just Want to See You Underwater

Here We Go Magic - Fangela

Here We Go Magic - Ahab

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Hefner, led by songwriter Darren Hayman, wrote punky Brit Pop from 1996 to 2002. Their work will resonate with fans of Blur and Pavement.

I like how their songs never feel cluttered. There is a lot of open space between the punctual power chords and swirling beep-beeps that gives their songs both the airy lightness and dark emptiness of a vacuum.

Hefner - When the Angels Play Their Drum Machines (Dead Media, 2001)

Hefner - Lee Remick (Boxing Hefner, 2000)

Hefner - Love Will Destroy Us in the End (Breaking God's Heart, 1998)

Monday, January 26, 2009

69 Love Songs

The Magnetic Fields' epic collection of 69 Love Songs is outrageously good. It may also be one of the few albums where the name matches the content perfectly.

Frontman Stephin Merritt is an extremely strong songwriter who, in addition to writing pop songs, writes for musical theater. His theatrical experience enables him to write pop songs in the stile rappresentativo, or the style that carefully matches the music with the words and their tone.

Most people who have heard the album agree that the volume one of the three volume set is by and far the best. But what about the other two discs? Where do they stand?

Here are some songs from volumes two and three that are often overlooked.

The Magnetic Fields - Grand Canyon (Volume 2)
This song is eloquent, simple, and romantic.

The Magnetic Fields - Busby Berkeley Dreams (Volume 3)
Probably the most emotional Merritt's voice gets.

The Magnetic Fields - Love Is Like a Bottle of Gin (Volume 3)
The lyrics are phenomenal. They could stand alone as an excellent poem.

The Magnetic Fields - Time Enough for Rocking When We're Old (Volume 2)

BUY 69 Love Songs

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Way Back into Love / Everywhere

Once is a great movie with an original music video/feature film aesthetic imposed on a heart-wrenching love story. Two strangers come together to pen a beautiful song that is the centerpiece of hte film.

But before Once, there was Music and Lyrics. Hugh Grant, a struggling, fallen-from-grace pop musician finds his muse in Drew Barrymore, and they write yet another piano-infused love ballad.

And before Music and Lyrics, there was Bears, an indie rock outfit from Cleveland that wrote a song called "Everywhere" that is, I believe, shamelessly stolen from them by that blasted Hugh Grant. Bloody 'ell.


Hugh Grant and Haley Bennett - Way Back Into Love (Music and Lyrics, February 2007)

Bears - Everywhere (Bears, 2005)

BUY the Once soundtrack

BUY the Music and Lyrics soundtrack

BUY Bears

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Happy Obama! / Antony, Andrew, Animal

Yay! Obama's president! Terrific! I hope it goes well.

But today is not only a great day for countries starting with "Am-," but also for bands with names starting with "An-." I am, of course, referring to the much-anticipated release of three albums today: Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavilion, Antony and the Johnsons's The Crying Light, and Andrew Bird's Noble Beast.

Each of these albums has been discussed in the New York Times in the past few weeks. I haven't heard them, so check out these articles for info:

I am going to buy them in 30 minutes at the Providence Mall! Yes!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

You = Hologram?

So, we might all be holograms. It's an idea. Maybe not. This article will blow your mind, though, even if it turns out to be false.

Stay tuned for more posts soon. I left my external hard drive at school, but I will have it again in a day!
Thanks to Marginal Revolution for the tip!