I Love It When Two Things Come Together (in my head, anyway)

Hi blogosphere! It’s been a while. I’ve been insanely busy, which is both good and bad. Good, because some cool stuff has been going on. Bad, because I’ve barely had time to write and I’m chronically sleep-deprived. At least George has kept me reasonably sane and steady, so we have him to thank for that.

More on all this soon.  But first…

You know how sometimes you see two things and you want them to come together so very very much that you make it happen, even if it’s just in your head?  Yup, in the middle of that, right now.

The below video of The Badpiper–the world’s premiere heavy metal bagpiper with pipes that shoot flames–playing AC/DC‘s “Thunderstruck” has been having its way with my Facebook feed lately. Which, you know. Cool. I really do like bagpipes, and there ain’t nothing wrong with a little AC/DC.

Like, HOLY POCKETS THAT DUDE IS SHOOTING FLAMES NEAR HIS HEAD! Right? No wonder he’s got a mohawk. I wonder how often he set his hair on fire before realizing the mohawk was a practical styling option.

Anyway. 

So I watched this and it was awesome, and then I thought, but wait. He could be playing better bagpipes, filled with even more flame-shooting deranged badassery.

He needs this set.

Yes.

Yes.

OMG OMG OMG. Can you imagine this thing shooting flames out its horns? The archetypal trauma alone would be worth the price of a ticket. For what it’s worth, I can picture it all in my head. And it. Is. Fannnnnnnntastic.

If anyone has other suggestions for appropriately mindblowing bagpipes, I’m happy to hear about them! Otherwise…soak in the idea of a little flame-shooting heavy metal goatpipe magic.

See you all soon!  XOXO

About these ads

Ellis Paul, Wilkes University, June 1 2014

Ellis Paul guesses we didn’t save the LP. Or the 8-track, or the cassingle, or even the CD, as his story about a recently rented car that featured an MP3 port but no CD player will attest. But goddamn it, he’s not giving up an LP (or, in the broader spectrum, non-digital music) without a fight.

Check out the swingin' record player!

Nothing like traveling with a harmonica and a swingin’ record player! I had one kind of like this when I was a kid, but…it also played 78s*. I miss that record player.

*Some of you have no idea what I’m talking about, do you? Add this to the hashtag #whippersnappers.

Not that I can blame him for not giving up the LP…says the girl who has three record players hanging around her house, and regularly has LP-only dance parties in her living room.

Avec l'harmonica!

Avec l’harmonica!

I can’t find a bit of fault for anyone mourning the way the music industry has turned on itself. When everything’s digital, there is no “big picture”. There’s no concept album, there’s no cohesive narrative, there’s no reason to create an album your listeners will play from beginning to end, from the start of Side A to the close of Side B (#whippersnappers, that’s how it was done). There’s not even cool cover art. It’s all short, easily digestible (OK, is debatable) 3-minute bursts of electronica. It’s shortsighted at best, and only provides one tiny sliver of insight into music and humanity and life. For a storyteller…no es bueno.

Storifying us all.

Scoffing in the face of autotune.

See, he said, when everything is digitized and downloadable, there’s nothing to care for. There’s no item that you can hold in your hands, nothing to blow the dust off, no liner notes to read. There’s no fond memories of a tone arm weighted down with a taped-on nickel to ride over the scratches (#whippersnappers).  He did say he’s going to release future recordings on LP, which I will of course be buying. Because it’s vinyl and I can’t help myself.

Speaking of scratches, gearheads, no, you’re not imagining things. There’s duct tape on the guitar. It seems that the appropriately-named (because look at it) guitar, Guinness, had an unfortunate incident during transport, and the airline he was flying on (United, maybe?) cracked it…but of course accepts no responsibility. Saying this guitar has gotten its fair share of dings is an understatement. Maybe there’s a cabal of rogue luthiers trying to boost business by creating unfortunate guitar incidents.  Here’s another picture of it.

Boo boo guitar. Plus rock-star pose.

Boo boo guitar. Plus rock-star pose.

Guinness really is a gorgeous guitar. Want to see it again?

Well, hello, beautiful.

Well, hello, beautiful.

So, Ellis Paul showed up in NEPA and provided a bit of a discourse about the dominance of digitized music. I didn’t expect to have to get all philosophically thinky-like, but there you have it. Inspiration strikes in the oddest places. He did this with a harmonica, a guitar, and a record player for two full hours of storification and musical regalement. And he brought a friend along! Laurie MacAllister from Red Molly stopped in for the least jangly, most soulful rendition of “If I Had a Hammer” that I have ever heard.

Having teh funnies on stage.

Having the private smilies on stage.

All in all, it was a fun evening, though I think I may have set myself up for something. When I went to the merch table (because I’m all cool and in-the-know and say things like “merch”) to get…ummm…merch, I…well, I not only requested (and received!) permission to go on stage and photograph the Official Ellis Paul Touring Record Player….

Record player, with conveniently-placed (not even by me!) non-Guinness acoustic.

Record player, with conveniently-placed (not even by me!) non-Guinness acoustic.

…BUT I decided to toss out a pitch for a song. “Next time you’re in PA,” I began, and he added, “Which is in a few weeks.”

Oh, right. I remembered that as soon as he said it. I mean, he doesn’t normally come back to this area so quickly. But you know? Too late to stop now.

“Next time, would it be possible for you to do “Paris in a Day”? Because I would love that forever.” What I didn’t say is, it would go right next to that little spot in my heart where his 2003, Austin TX, Cactus Cafe performance of “Conversation with a Ghost” lives, and I would blow it kisses and nurture the memory and work it into my mental loop of awesome things that keep me happy. Because it is goddamned “Paris in a Day” and all other arguments are invalid. 

He said, “You know, I was just listening to that song on the way up here today.”

Really? D’oh!  Ahem. So. Looks like I’m going to Bethlehem, because if he does polish up that chestnut and I’m not there? I’m the worst fan ever.

Yeah. See you in a few weeks.

Yes you would be, he seemed to say.

Who’s with me?

I mean, really, if he doesn’t play “Paris…”, the worst that will happen is we’ll see a really good show.

Here’s “Paris in a Day” to play you out. And “Conversation with a Ghost”, for good measure.

Sad but true. And yes, I own this. And it's not an LP.

Sad but true. And yes, I own this. And it’s not an LP.

George Rocks Bon Appetit with SpaghettiO’s Cupcakes

The following story is a testament to tradition.

A few weeks ago, I found an article on Bon Appetit’s website–in a section called “kookery“–about an experiment in processed food repurposing.  FoodBeast, building on the tradition of using tomatoey products in baked goods (think chocolate cake made with canned tomato soup), concocted the title cupcakes, the concept of which diddles the brain and gives the finger to sensible eating.

Before I go one step further, I want you all to think about this: SpaghettiO’s cupcakes. With Velveeta frosting.  AND!  Goldfish sprinkles.  There’s genius behind the madness.

They're so...orange.

They’re so…orange.
Photo from FoodBeast.com

Of course, I had to show George, who was so taken by the idea of…you know…using SpaghettiO’s to make cupcakes that, in keeping with his own tradition of celebrating repulsive food (think “Delicious Meat-Shell Pie“), he immediately went about setting it to music.

It’s hilarious.

Almost religious.

Totally freaktastic.

Once the song was complete and derangedly perfect, George took it to the next level and posted a link from his SoundClick account to the comments section in the “Kookery” post on Bon Appetit and called it a day.

That’s when things got interesting.

Two days ago, George posted his link.  Yesterday, we were contacted by a writer at Bon Appetit, who wanted to write a brief profile on George.  They were charmed by his song, he said.  So he got a nice little 200-word writeup and bragging rights for being awesome.  I won’t repost everything here–you’ll have to go to Bon Appetit to read the entire article, but check out these juicy nuggets:

“…singer, songwriter, and knight-errant George Potor…”

“The chorus…has the effect of a mystical chant.”

“…the world needs more troubadours singing about ridiculous food.”

Here’s the link to the Bon Appetit article.

And here’s the SoundCloud links George created so Bon Appetit could embed his music.  Choose from:

SpaghettiOs Cupcakes

Delicious Meat-Shell Pie

Even in a suit, he rocks it.

Even in a suit, he rocks it.

Thanks for making it continuously interesting, honey.  Love you!

One More Thing About Miley Cyrus…

I know, I know.  I’m sure we’re all sick of Miley Cyrus and her twerky ass, but I just feel like I have to say this…

…and I can’t believe I’m saying this…

…but I think we need to give her one tiny break.

Just one.  Let me explain.

It’s not that I think she’s so totally awesome that she gets a pass because OMG how can you not love everything she does?  No no, I assure you.  I’ve said since seeing the VMA performance that’s caused the avalanche of media hooha that the thing I’m most offended by about her performance is that she’s making bajillions of dollars and can’t fucking sing.  She is a testament to the magical properties of auto-tune, and will keep any skilled vocal-mix professional working for years to come.  (Miley Cyrus: Job creator.)  They claim she wasn’t auto-tuned for the VMAs.  Go on, go watch it again and play the “count the flat notes” drinking game.  Every flat note, take a shot.  You’ll be knackered before the song comes to an end (and if you play through Robin Thicke’s part of the performance, put 911 on your speed dial to counter the inevitable onset of alcohol poisoning).

It’s because, if people had been paying even a tiny bit of attention, there wouldn’t be a public outcry for a national fainting couch to combat the epidemic of swooning from the shock of Miley’s ladyparts being so vigorously and unapologetically diddled on stage.

I took this picture from somewhere off this blog http://jennytrout.wordpress.com/, though God help me I don't remember exactly which page because I've been reading it obsessively the past few days.

I took this picture from somewhere off the blog http://jennytrout.wordpress.com/, though God help me I don’t remember exactly which page because I’ve been reading it obsessively the past few days.

I was talking with my boyfriend the other night and he said, “Someone asked who came up with the choreography for Miley Cyrus’s performance.  Apparently, it’s taken pretty directly from her video.”

Oh, really, I thought.  How ’bout that?  Re-enacting a video (at least in part) at the VIDEO MUSIC AWARDS.  I guess I didn’t see that coming.  I feel so naive.

So I watched her video for “We Can’t Stop”, which was of course the song she sang at the VMAs.  Here it is.  I’ll get back to this in a minute but please, for the sake of the rest of this article, pay attention to what’s going on in the video.  Feel free to watch it without the sound on.  It makes it easier.

Well all right.  There you have it.  They totally pulled parts of the video for her performance.  The giant furry costumes.  Some of the dance moves.  Her goddamned tongue, which I’m pretty sure she can do push ups on.  It also, for the record, included:

  • what looked like fingers being sliced off a hand
  • copious twerking
  • a guy shooting smoke out of his crotch
  • enough with the tongue, Miley
  • abundant ass shots and spread eagled bed writhing
  • girl on girl food wrestling, booty smacking, and at least one boobie fondle
  • oh, yeah, and then she licked that doll’s face

My point is: this was all in the video which has been released for months, so people freaking out about virginal Hannah Montana suddenly becoming sexually supercharged is…well…inauthentic at best and hypocritical at worst.  Clearly, they’re not paying attention to the same things their kids are paying attention to, or else they think that whatever happens in the confines of a three-minute music video can’t ever possibly translate into live performance.

Whatever.  This is why child stars develop substance abuse problems.

But then it gets even more deranged, because Miley didn’t get as much shit for her own performance as she did for her participation in Robin Thicke‘s song, “Blurred Lines”.  Here’s the video, if you’re unfamiliar with the song.  Please notice the plastic clothing on the models, in relation to Miley’s VMA costuming.

God, I hate this song.

For Thicke’s part of the performance, Miley Cyrus ripped off her stupid, stupid furry bear onesie and revealed her vinyl bra and panty set, so she looked shiny and almost-nude.  Which kind of emulates what the models were wearing.  But that finger, good God…what about that giant foam finger she was waving around at the VMAs?  Why was Miley Cyrus just a protective vinyl barrier away from flicking her bean on national TV?  In front of the children?  Wearing that godforsaken foam finger?

OK, point #1: this wasn’t the Kid’s Choice awards, this was the VMAs.  It wasn’t a show for kids.  (Waaah!  But it was prime time!  So is CSI, American Horror Story, The Bachelor, Supernatural, America’s Next Top Model, Bates Hotel, and Californication.  These are all shows that have weird/questionable subject matter that isn’t necessarily kid friendly.  Especially that show about modeling, which I’m sure has helped fuel plenty of eating disorders across the country.  Don’t let them watch it if you don’t like it.)  

Point #2:  It’s the music industry, which is a carnivorous beast that thrives on sex and the blood of the young.  What did you expect?

And point #3:  That finger?  The hyper-sexualized content?  It’s in Robin Thicke’s video.  Not that one.  This one.  The other, unrated, way naked, kid-unfriendly version of “Blurred Lines”.

(I warn you now, this is not safe for work, for kids, for mother, for the good of all humanity.  Watch at your own risk.)

Please note that this video features:

  • Plenty of topless models in nude-colored g-strings and white platform sneakers
  • What’s up with that lamb?
  • Fully clothed men, because of course they can’t be seen as vulnerable/exposed/not in charge
  • That. Fucking. Finger.
  • Mylar balloons spelling out that Robin Thicke has a big dick

So once again, they were re-enacting a video.  Robin Thicke’s video, not Miley Cyrus’s.  It may have been the unrated one but still, these videos have been released since March 2013.  The world has had six months to hate on the goddamned finger and they focus their anger NOT on Robin Thicke, the person who inflicted it unto the world but rather, on the young woman who performed it with him at a live show.  They may as well hate the models who danced in the unrated version, because clearly they were the ones in charge of artistic direction.

Was it over the top?  Sure, I guess, though the entertainment industry as a whole is pretty well known for its decided lack of boundary/sense/taste and there’s not much that shocks me anymore.  When performers are as untalented as Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke, it’s no surprise that they have to become giant media gluttons just to keep the spotlight.  Outrageous behavior distracts from the fact that they’re untalented hacks.  I don’t care who Miley Cyrus grinds her ass up against, or who Robin Thicke has to simu-bone for attention, though I do care that these two performers are being held to entirely different standards for doing essentially the same thing.  Yes, yes, I know, RT is a man and we all know it’s OK for guys to swagga into a room dick-first but if a woman is overtly sexual?  Whoooooooooooooooore!  I feel kind of bad for Miley and her overt sexuality.  You know when a baby discovers his feet?  And then his parents put little jingly socks on him and he waves his munchkin feet around and sticks them in his mouth and can’t keep his hands off them because they’re all fresh and new to him?  That’s exactly how I view Miley Cyrus’s relationship with her vagina: it’s like she just found it and can’t stop (see what I did there?) pointing it out to everyone.  I blame Disney.

So please.  Don’t stop buying Miley’s albums because she committed some very public self-canoodling with a prop from one of Robin Thicke’s videos.  That’s unfair, and doesn’t focus on the source of the behavior, which (I will spell out) is Robin Thicke, or at the very least RT’s artistic director.  And don’t not buy RT’s albums because he’s a misogynistic tool.  Instead, I beg of you all, to do this: don’t buy their albums, because they CAN’T FUCKING SING.

What the hell, Justin Bieber?

Normally, I don’t give a shit about celebrities behaving badly.  I mean duh, of course they’re misbehaving in public.  Of course Lindsay Lohan is violating parole and going to rehab and pick-a-celeb, you’ll find a bar fight and Charlie Sheen became a celebrity anti-hero after a tiger-blood-fueled, insane ragestravaganza (and subsequent publicity tour) and Led Zeppelin are still unfortunately noted for doing unspeakable things with a fish.  And on, and on and on on on on.

Meh.  Whatever.  Celebrities.

But you know, sometimes?  There are those celebriturds who go too far.  For me, the line often gets drawn when there’s thoughtless aggression directed towards people who are just trying to do their jobs.  People who don’t exist in the rarefied circle of celebrity entitlement, who don’t have handlers and fret about health insurance and worry how to put food on the table every day.  People who may hate their jobs but show up because they don’t have the luxury to not get it done, whether “it” is taking care of their kids or making their rent or generating income while they write the Great American Novel in their spare time.

They’re people who deserve better than this.

That’s right. On leaving a nightclub and going out the back way through the kitchen, Justin Bieber thought it would be abso-fucking-lutely hilarious to piss into a mop bucket that’s supposed to be used to keep a restaurant clean and in compliance with health codes, while his professional ass-kissers cheer and his bodyguard (remember him? The guy who sat The Biebs back in his car like he was handling a 4-year-old?) benignly looks on.  Video him peeing, even, with a phone.  This of course begs the question: who’d he piss off enough that they released the video to TMZ?

See, here’s the thing: Someone’s got to clean that up.  The Maple Christ may think his piss is suitable for mass consumption (just listen to his music; it’s not far off) and that wherever it may fall, unicorns will spring forth and fart rainbows.  But to the kitchen staff making $7.25 an hour–the ones who have to empty the bucket and sterilize it before it can be used to clean, you know, a place that processes food, so they may be compliant with state and local health and sanitation standards–he’s just another rich doucheketeer looking for new lows to exploit in his pursuit of privilege.  Go, Wild Kidz!  The baddest gang to ever have a bodyguard to defend them!

Seriously, New York City, if you don’t at least issue a charge for misdemeanor public urination (because how much more public can it get than broadcast on TMZ?), you’re seriously dropping the ball, and that restaurant should consider pressing vandalism charges.

Though it will be interesting when the Bieber train wrecks, like most manufactured pop acts do.  Just look at Brittney and her extraordinary meltdown in 2007.  And Biebs is fifty times as arrogant as she was, so one can only hope that when he melts it will be fifty times as spectacular.

Maybe I should just sit back and enjoy the show, because it’s bound to happen and his behavior is increasingly erratic.  This could be fun.

But first, asshole, the least you could do is apologize.

Canada, can you please come here and take him back?

Ellis Paul at the James V. Brown Library

Or rather, at the “liberry”, as I like to say.

Ellis Paul, the folk singer I’ve written about once or twice before, finally played somewhere that’s a reasonable driving distance from my little hamlet of a town.  I’ve been known  to make the three+ hour trek to Philly to see him, or drive an hour and a half to Harrisburg.  Twenty-six miles?  Less than thirty measly minutes?  To Williamsport?

Pfft.   Chump change.

OK, so it was a children’s show and I don’t have any kids.  Understandably, one might think that was a little quirky (Hello, my name is Terri but you can call me Aunt Creepster) BUT I am friends with one of the programming coordinators at James V. Brown Library.  The library, opened in 1907, is a gorgeous building bequeathed to the city by lumber baron James VanDuzee Brown (and thus not to be confused with a certain other James Brown, regardless of the music being performed).  Performers–Ellis, and anyone who plays there for First Friday events–get to play in the Rotunda Room, which boasts a beautiful stained glass rotunda and wrought iron gazebo.  It’s kind of an amazing place to spend a day regardless of why you’re there.  I got to help set up and hang out and feel all cool.  What a different person I’ve become, now that I think hauling chairs around a library on a Saturday morning to prep for a kids’ show is “cool”.  And yet I was.  A girl can’t help it, even if I wasn’t quite a roadie and was more of a…ummmm…venue monkey.  Or something.

Here’s the thing: even when he’s putting on a kid’s show, Ellis Paul is a great act to catch.  He’s funny and engaging.  He keeps the kids entertained and throws in enough references so the parents “get” that he’s winking at them.  He plays long enough to be worth it but not so long that the kids are losing their minds.  And even though these songs are written for children, they’re still conceptually interesting.  I didn’t know there was such a thing called “wabi-sabi“, never mind that it was a Japanese aesthetic that focuses on the acceptance of imperfection.  Not until I heard a song about it at a kid’s show.

It’s a great message for kids.  Not a bad one for adults either, when you come down to it.  But it’s one that’s far more challenging and evocative than “I love you, you love me.”  Which I suppose is nice too, but a little pedestrian and not always true.

Here’s some photos from the show.

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Travel Theme: Benches, Part Deux

I had forgotten about this funny, quirky, adorable song when I wrote my previous “bench” blog, but my boyfriend kindly reminded me of its existence.  Originally written by French singer-songwriter/poet Georges BrassensLes Amoreux des Bancs Publics is all about couples making out on park benches.  If this doesn’t belong in Ailsa‘s bench-themed blog, I don’t quite know what does.

Below are the original and a translated version, and below those are the lyrics.  Enjoy!

LES AMOUREUX DES BANCS PUBLICS

Words and Music : Georges Brassens

Les gens qui voient de travers

Pensent que les bancs verts

Qu’on voit sur les trottoirs

Sont faits pour les impotents ou les ventripotents

Mais c’est une absurdite

Car, a la verite

Ils sont la, c’est notoire

Pour accueillir quelques temps les amours debutants

CHORUS
Les amoureux qui s’becotent sur les bancs publics

Bancs publics, bancs publics

En s’foutant pas mal des r’gards obliques

des passants honetes

Les amoureux qui s’becotent sur les bancs publics

Bancs publics, bancs publics

En s’disant des *je t’aime* pathetiques

Ont des p’tites gueules bien sympathiques

Ils se tiennent par la main

Parlent du lendemain

Du papier bleu d’azur

Que revetiront les murs de leur chambre a coucher

Ils se voient deja douc’ment

Elle cousant, lui fumant

Dans un bien-etre sur

Et choisissent les prenoms de leur premier bebe…

CHORUS

Quand la sainte famille Machin

Croise sur son chemin

Deux de ces malappris

Elle leur decroche hardiment des propos venimeux

N’empeche que toute la famille

Le pere, la mere, la fille, le fils, le saint-esprit

Voudrait bien de temps en temps

Pouvoir s’conduire comme eux.

CHORUS

Quand les mois auront passe

Quand seront apaises

Leur beaux reves flambants

Quand leur ciel se couvrira de gros nuages lourds

Ils s’apercevront emus,

Qu’c’est au hasard des rues

Sur un d’ces fameux bancs

Qu’ils ont vecu le meilleur morceau de leur amour

CHORUS (x2)

THE PUBLIC BENCHES

by Georges Bressens, translated and performed by Pierre de Gaillande 

People who see upside-down

Think the benches around

The sidewalks and the streets

Are made only for the impotent or the obese

But it’s an absurdity

For in reality

These venerable seats

Are there to accommodate young lovers when they meet

Chorus:

Young lovers kissing on park benches publicly,

Publicly, publicly

Not giving the slightest damn for the

Honest people’s stares

Young lovers kissing on park benches publicly,

Publicly, publicly

Saying “I love you” pathetically

Look pretty nice if you ask me

As they sit there holding hands

They speak of future plans

Of sky blue wallpaper

That will dress the pretty walls of their nuptial bedside

They see what tomorrow knows

He’s smoking while she sews

Their happiness assured

While deliberating the name of their first-born child

Chorus

When the noble what’s-their-names

Happen to contemplate

Two of these so-and-so’s

They never hesitate to toss out some venomous names

Though the entire family clan

The mom, the girl, the dad

The son, the Holy Ghost

Wouldn’t mind once in a while behaving just the same

Chorus

When the heady months have ceased

When they will have appeased

All of their burning dreams

When their sky grows heavy with the darkening clouds above

They will sadly come to see

That it was on these streets

Upon these famous seats

That they lived the greatest moments of their budding love

Chorus

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