I’m not really a big fan of Heavy Metal as a (meta) genre, but I do occasionally appreciate heavier songs that have an emphasis on melody vs. an aggressively pounding rhythm. This weeks selection includes a cross section of Industrial Metal, Hard Rock, Emo and Punk.

* Fishbone – Faceplant Scorpion Backpinch
* Ministry – NWO
* Rush – Peaceable Kingdom
* Midnight Oil – Redneck Wonderland
* Nine Inch Nails – Last
* Sugar – JC Auto
* Kings’ X – The Train
* Whole Wheat Bread – Miss Perfection

Winner:
This week, I’ll take a detour and nominate Whole Wheat Bread’s Miss Perfection as my fave for the week.

Sometimes I find myself in the mood to listen to music that is not necessarily by a certain artist but rather fits a certain broad genre. I have a few playlists that I have curated over the years that are just for those occasions. For this outing we’ll be taking a look at one of those, my dedicated Chillout playlist. Songs in this playlist can be classified as being anything from Downtempo. Chillout, Jazz, some of your slower pop songs and Ambient.

* Dzihan & Kamien – Basmati: I first started listening to this group after I heard a sampling of them on an iTunes radio station.
* Desmond Williams – Cadence: I discovered this artist after the Thievery Corporation did a remix of one of his songs and it was included in one of the free CDs that I used to get from the now-defunct Revolutions magazine.
* Tycho – Daydream & Sunrise Projector: I heard snippets of this artist during an NPR music interview and was pretty much hooked right away.
* Count Basic – Gotta Jazz: Count Basic was one of the artists that I downloaded during a massive MP3 sharing party that I attended during my final year at UW.
* Sound Tribe Sector 9 – Otherwise Formless: I found this group while sampling some of the music that Carrie had collected / aquiered throughout the years.
* The Orb – Star 6 & 7 8 9: Another artist that I discovered via Revolutions magazine circa 2
* LTJ Bukem – Point of View: Another artist that I discovered via Revolutions magazine circa 2000.
* Mr. Electric Triangle - The track formerly known as ?: I found this one on a compilation of Acid Jazz tracks that a friend from work gave me.

Winner:

I’ll go again with Tycho and the wonderful Daydream from his “Awake” recording.

(Revised, 20 February 2014). I had completely forgotten to add and consider “The track formerly known as?” during the original posting. Upon listening to that song, I decided that was to be my new fave for the week. So, consider this a twofer :)

I’ve never really been a big concert-goer; I can count the number of times that I’ve seen music live in my adult life on – well – two hands. By far and large, the majority of my concert-going experiences occurred whilst I was in the Navy. This weeks selection is dedicated to groups that I have seen live.

  • Van Halen – Summer Nights – Monsters of Rock, Washington DC, Summer of 1989
  • Living Colour - Elvis is Dead – Lollapalooza, Mountain View, CA 1991 and Tijuana, Mexico 1993
  • Lionel Ritchie – Dancing on the Ceiling – Seattle, WA 2014
  • Siouxsie & The Banshees – Oh Baby – Lollapalooza, Mountain View, CA 1991 and San Francisco, CA 1992
  • Dream Catcha – Hey How ya Doin’? – Whaling Days, Silverdale, WA, Summer 2004
  • Butthole Surfers – Who was in my room last night? – Lollapalooza, Mountain View, CA 1991
  • Nine Inch Nails – Terrible Lie – Lollapalooza, Mountain View, CA 1991
  • Rush – Ceiling Unlimited – Auburn WA, 2004

Favorite: This week, I’m going with Dream Catcha’s Hey How ya Doin. I caught this band during their self-funded US tour during Silverdale’s Whaling Days back in 2004, and as far as I know this five-member Australian outfit only released a single EP. Too bad, because I really had fun listening to their live set, and the EP was full of fun songs like this one.

For  the fifth (!) year in the row, I present to you what has become a proud tradition of the Anderson-Burrell household – the Gabe and Ollie birthday video! This year, instead of trying to come up with an obvious birthday related song(s), we turned instead to the two stars themselves and chose one of their favorite songs – “The Legend is True” by The Aquabats.

Enjoy!

Back in the mid-nineties towards the end of my two-year long stay in Italy (courtesy of the United States Navy), I became good friends with one of the people who worked in the same shop as I, Ryan. Our friendship started slowly and nondescriptly enough, but we soon found ourselves whiling away hours both on ship and off talking about many topics, literature amongst them. I happened to mention one day that I was an ardent reader of Science Fiction. Without blinking, he said offhandedly “Oh, fluff.” At the time, I didn’t have the ammunition with which to effectively counter the rather sidereal broadside that had been launched against my genre of choice; to be honest, I hadn’t even thought to do so at the time, there being other more worthwhile things to devote our combined acumen towards than.

Well over 15 years later, however, my thoughts drift back to that remark. What is it about Science Fiction (and by extension, Fantasy) that makes one so casually dismiss the two genres as being somehow vacuous in a literary sense? As genres go, one could fairly say that the percentage of “lesser” works in that particular oeuvre is equal to the percentage of such in others. Not every work in a particular genre can be defined as being substantial (even though what marks substance is purely subjective), nor should it be – but to insist that the  totality of a genre doesn’t quite measure up so some subjective mark, and never could – is a bit extreme.

As evidence for my point – not all Science Fiction and Fantasy should be casually dismissed as being “fluff,” I offer the following examples:

  • Isaac Asimov The Foundation trilogy
  • J.R.R Toleins’s The Lord of the Rings
  • Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five, The Sirens of Titan, Cat’s Cradle and Galapagos
  • George Orwell’s 1984
  • Robert Heinlan’s Starship Troopers
  • Phillip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep
  • Douglas Adam’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
  • China Miéville’s The City & The City, Embassytown and Railsea
  • Hannu Rajaniemi’s The Quantum Thief, The Fractal Prince and The Casual Angel

Those are just the books that I have read, and this is far from being an exhaustive list of even such; I’m sure that there are plenty others. My point is that each of the above works is regarded as being culturally significant and weighty in its own right, even though  it nominally belongs to this genre called “Science Fiction” or “Fantasy.” Some might regard the inclusion of such works on the roster of  the “greats” as exceptions that fail to negate the rule, but I hold a different point of view: that the inclusion of such fantastical works  are actually de rigeur and not to be dismissed. Simply neglecting to read works SF or Fantasy in favor of more “Classic”-type tomes gives one a diminished world-view of all that is available in Literature.

A while ago I submitted a story to NPR’s Three Minute Fiction. I happen to think that it’s probably the strongest short story  that I’ve written to date, but it didn’t even get a top mention. Oh well. I’m posting it here for your enjoyment :)

“The yushe?” asked the barista with the garish tattoo down the length of the front of her throat. Xavi just nodded at her, and held out three one-dollar bills.

“Thanks,” he replied, taking the money. Something on the ground caught Xavi’s eye, and he bent over to pick it up. When he had stood back up, the barista was holding out nine cents change. A frown briefly crossed her doubly-pierced lips when he dropped only the change into the tip jar. Less than a minute later, he had his tall double-shot no-whip mocha in hand, and was looking for a seat. He saw a workmate in the corner, head buried in one of the local free weeklies. “Hey, Ramon,” he said, coming over and sitting at the table, placing his briefcase on the floor.

“Hey – oh, Xavi,” Ramon said, looking up, “what’s up?”

“Eh,” Xavi shrugged, “just getting my morning brew before heading in.”

“Yeah,” Ramon half-nodded. He looked back down at his paper.

“Whoa – great.”

“What’s that?” Ramon’s head jerked up.

“Her.” Xavi was pointing.

Ramon looked. Scanning the ground by the the front counter was a tall, disheveled looking woman. Her clothes were well-worn, fraying at the edges. She was wearing too many layers for this warm summer’s morning.

“What about her?”

“Hang’s out on the corner of 15th and Market, sells that homeless newspaper most days.”

“You say so,” Ramon said, “looks like she’s looking for something.”

“Probably this,” Xavi held up the item that he had found: a card with ten punched holes in it, “Grande drip, extra room” written on it.

“You gonna give that to her?” Ramon asked.

Xavi shrugged as he tapped the card on the  table.

“Xavi?”

“Thing is,” Xavi blurted, “ a couple of weeks ago, I was on a lunch date with Dianne – you know, from HR? As we were leaving Spago’s, that woman shoves that fishwrap into my face. So I dig out a five – that’s all I had – and asked for some change. Woman starts whining at me in front of Dianne, about how she doesn’t have any change, and can’t I just spare the five. We ended up just walking away – she wouldn’t even take my five when I tried to give it to her.”

“What happened after that?”

“Nothing,” Xavi shrugged, “at least not with Dianne. She never called me back, won’t talk to me whenever I go up to the seventh floor.”

“Wonder why,” Ramon sighed as he watched the woman slowly leave the cafe.

“So do I.”

Ramon stared at him. “You really don’t know, do  you?”

“Wish I did,” Xavi was turning the punch card over in his hands, looking at it.

“At least turn it in so that it’ll be here for her next time. That woman probably has to save up just to get her coffees,” Ramon had put his paper down. “Gettin’ that eleventh one for free would probably make her day.”

Xavi frowned. “Another date with Dianne would have made mine.” He ripped up the card and dropped it into his half-finished mocha.

Ramon gaped  – then pursed his lips as he folded his newspaper and started to gather his own half-finished drink and napkins.

“Where are you going?” asked Xavi.

“Heading in early.”

“Well, hold on and I’ll…” Xavi started to reach for his briefcase.

“No,” Ramon was shaking his head. He nodded at Xavi’s mocha, bits of white paper floating in the dark brown liquid.

“Enjoy your drink,” he said evenly before he left.

I would like to say that I have fairly eclectic tastes when it comes to popular music. There really isn’t a genre that I would dismiss outright, or at the very least give a few honest listenings to before doing so. While the foundations of some of that eclecticism were laid during my childhood listening to my fathers vast (and vastly) Jazz-centric collection, I would say that true cornerstone of such had been laid with the advent of MTV during my late middle school years and musical cliques during high school. During middle school I found myself watching MTV for hours absorbing new groups; during high school I would share headphones with some of my classmates while they listened to some of their music on their Walkman. During my junior year in high school, I began to read Spin magazine, which at the time along with Trouser Press was my source of all things (what was then) Alternative music.

I was well on the way to building up my own collection. Not nearly as large as my fathers, it was more expansive, although decidedly more illicitly so. Prior to the advent of cheap compact discs, I would either buy easily hidden cassettes of music that was verboten in our household or stuff my racier LPs inside of the sleeves of records that were on the “approved” list. Had I grown up thirty years later, I would have probably just hidden the MP3 versions of those very same recording either in an innocuously named folder on my computer or on the cloud. Parts of me wonders what tricks my own kids will resort to :)

* Clannad – Nil Len Sa – I first got turned on to this group while watching the 80’s version of “Robin Hood” late night on PBS (they recorded the haunting theme song). This particular recording does a pretty good job of melding traditional Irish folk with jazz-influenced improvisation
* ’till Tuesday – Rip in Heaven. This is a track from one of my favorite recordings of all time, “Everything’s Different Now.” I have Spin magazine to thank for this one.
* Duran Duran – Serious. Yes, that group that just about everyone in my neighborhood was listening to.
* My Bloody Valentine – Loomer. Another group that I heard of via Spin, this is off of their seminal 1990 recording “Loveless”.
* Rush – Tom Sawyer. A neighborhood kid named Lonnie introduced me to this group back during my freshman year in high school.
* Los Lobos – Emily. I forget why I started listening to this group – I believe that at some point I was at Waxie Maxie’s and decided to buy a random record in order to fill up my rewards card.
* Iron Maiden – Wasted Years. Not being part of any particular clique (even the most obvious one), I found myself being largely being at least tolerated by most of them. A I discovered Iron Maiden via a couple of friends that I had who were dedicated headbangers. Looking back now, I realize that I must have been something of a novelty to them. being one of the four black people (at least that I knew of, anyway) who would at least listen to metal.
* Siuouxse and the Banshees – Kiss them for me. It was a fellow black man named Jeff who worked alongside of me at McDonalds who introduced me to this group. He played a couple of songs from “Through the Looking Glass” for me, and I was hooked.
* Living Color – Cult of Personality – It was a workmate of mine (from when I worked at Frederick Iron and Steel as a machinist) who was telling me something about “that group of brothers who play metal”. You know I was intrigued enough to find out who these guys were!
* 24-7 Spyz – Tick Tick Tick. I found this group via indirection. I recall that they were mentioned in the same breath at Living Color as being another African American group that played metal-influenced music.

The winner:
Emily>/a>, by Los Lobos. Time and place, I suppose ;)

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