Thursday, February 28, 2013

From blues to folk to rock - cover songs

Son House - Death Letter. I don't know the year of this live performance—probably the 60s. I always thought Son House was from waaay back and didn't realize he was performing right up until the early 1970s. I once wrote and performed a now-embarrassing tribute called Son House Played the Blues that railed on social injustice for underpaid musical innovators. I was really young. The sentiment was true.

The White Stripes - Death Letter cover. Jack White naturally gravitates toward Son House's rhythm-guitar style—emphasis on the driving rhythm. Adrenaline-rush explains the over-the-top nature of this performance. When thousands of people are staring at you, you have to give them a show. The studio version on their second album, "De Stijl" is in fine form.

Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie - When the Levee Breaks. I'm sorry about the intro ad and terribly irritating images. Ironic copyright law won't allow this song to be posted as a video in the U.S. Just hide your screen, listen and enjoy.

When the Levee Breaks (Kansas Joe McCoy... by reggaematicltd

Led Zeppelin - When the Levee Breaks cover. In some kind of copyright mystery, Led Zeppelin's music is all over the YouTube place. I hope the McCoy and Minnie estates saw some royalties from this cover, albeit with some altered lyrics.

The Staple Singers - This May Be The Last Time. This haunting gospel chorus would later touch something deep inside a young guitarist in a British blues band.

The Rolling Stones - The Last Time (sample/cover). Ultimately this would be covered in orchestrated form by Andrew Oldham, which would lead to a copyright lawsuit against The Verve. Don't ask—it's very complicated. Maybe this article will help. It hurts my head and I doubt The Staple Singers were beneficiaries in any way. Don't quote me, but the most expensive legal teams usually win on these things.

Tom Clarence Ashley and Gwen Foster - House of the Rising Sun. This is considered the oldest known recording of this traditional, which inspired numerous covers during the 60s folk-rock period.

Nina Simone made The House of the Rising Sun her own, as she was apt to do...

...which inspired Eric Burdon, who was a big Simone fan, to cover it with The Animals. There's something about this song that really gets under the skin to the heart of some dark matter.

Howlin' Wolf - Smokestack Lightning. Perhaps the coolest song ever. Listen to Howlin' Wolf—so much heart and soul, it's almost overwhelming. This is one of those songs that alters your brain waves in dreamlike ways.

The Yardbirds, young musical prodigies from (surprise) England, thought so too.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Oscars on Acid 2013

A good tab of LSD will last you at least 12 hours, perfect for televised Academy Award coverage! Have a mind-expanding Hollywood award-show experience full of glitz, glamor and God (well, Adele did attend). It's OK, I'll be your guide. It's going to be OK man—by tomorrow, you won't even remember who won.

And now: Oscars on Acid, brought to you by my multitude of Photoshop filters.

Amy Adams welcomes you to the day-glow marathon experience of wealthy, successful entertainment-industry professionals, sitting, clapping and smiling.

Jessica Chastain is our "it" girl for new experiences. You are experienced, aren't you?

Whoa, Jennifer Lawrence, slow down! Your career trajectory is spinning out of control!

Phew, time for some old-guard, larger-than-life Hollywood Royalty. Bow down to Michael Douglas and his fair maiden, Catherine Zeta-Jones, floating by in a glitz bubble of epic proportions!

Sally Field has got it going on.

For all we know, George Clooney could very well be on acid right this moment. He's pretty laid back.

 Is all of this just a cartoon? Hugs and kisses to Daniel Radcliffe and Melissa McCarthy—classy yet approachable.

What's Kelly Osbourne doing here? My mind can't process this (even when I'm not on Photoshop acid).

Whoosh! Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman make a dashing couple.

Zoe Saldana has such a lovely name. Zoeeey Saldaaannaaa...


Marcia Gay Harden can really pull off red.

Losing focus, Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts! It's not your fault—you both can act and don't need to even be here to promote yourselves.

Amanda Seyfried reminds me of the 19th century. She's dreamy.

I must be really tripping hard at this point.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Housework Haiku

That's right: housework haiku. Everybody's doing it (eventually)—nobody's writing haiku about it. I'm here to fill the housework haiku void.* Just me, sitting at my dusty, cluttered desk on a non-ergonomic chair with wall-to-wall carpeting full of spilled Cheerios and sundry items.

shoving a vacuum
across the carpeted floor
modern punishment

dishwasher loaded
pioneers scrubbed endlessly
I push a button

dusting is touching
every surface you live with
so much to fathom

hail, washer/dryer
you never disappoint me
machines of valor

cobwebs overhead
drifting on the air currents
feel my dust-mop's wrath

bathroom mania
soaker tubs, designer sinks
more toilets to scrub

I don't iron much
Around this house, that's men's work
my soul is wrinkled

crumbs are everywhere
we are surrounded by crumbs
let's face it, they win

besieged within filth
because I promised to write
this housework haiku

*Lovely images from Jessica Cangiano's Pinterest—check it out.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Animated Cat GIFs Because I Like Attention

The Internet and cats—an endless love affair! Posting these animated cat gifs will put me on the path of winning worldwide popularity and soon my future as an international tastemaker will be assured. I'd much rather focus on that than admit that I've gathered these gifs and am profiting from them here, even though I had nothing to do with their creation. It's not about creation, but aggregation. And branding. And SEO. And diagonal venture-market-Web 2.0-building. And cute widdle whiskers.

Business Cat - this reminds me of a dream I had where my cat got a job at Walgreen's, but every time customers asked him questions, he just sat, staring and blinking at them from behind the counter.

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Have you ever had an imperfect customer-service interaction? Perhaps this is why:

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A cat gambling addiction is a serious matter. But oh so cute.

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Cat space jump is good for yet another WTF moment.

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Cat with rats peaceable kingdom gif.

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Maru is probably the most famous cat on the Internet and with good reason. He's the Cary Grant of cats.

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This dumb pre-Internet guy I once semi-dated claimed that cats were incapable of having facial expressions. How Wrong He Was.

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Oh, cats. Don't ever change!

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Thank you, Internet.

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Have a Bob Lind Valentine's Day

I spent many Valentine's Days as a single lady and perhaps that's why I never appreciated the abundance of commodified celebration-of-love products that exist for the month of February. I get more excited about Black History Month. A WHOLE month of black history. That's noteworthy.

But thinking about love can be complicated. Some people don't have enough of it. Some people have much and would rather make it an ongoing celebration, rather than trivializing it with a single day of chocolates and greeting cards. Having a child who is growing up and perhaps starting to have "feelings" for some of his classmates, makes Valentine's touchy. You don't want to give away your whole hand when you're ten years old.

I'm just going to try and appreciate the love I have with my sweetie. He accepts me as I am and we enjoy experiencing the world together. He has a lot of love and expresses it well. He can build and fix bicycles and he likes to hug. He's gentle and true and keeps me posted on important baseball happenings as they occur. Here's to all that.

Bob Lind - Elusive Butterfly, 1966. The sappiest pop song EVER, and that's saying a lot. Sometimes it plays in the grocery store while I'm searching for my sale items. Bob Lind's only hit but people still get misty-eyed thinking about it. We are born (most of us) to make connections with one another but that can definitely seem elusive. Like a butterfly. A butterfly of love.

Pulp's ultimately hopeful tribute, Bob Lind ((The Only Way Is Down), 2001.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Serge Gainsbourg / Anna Karina collaboration pour vous

Remember when Anna Karina collaborated with Serge Gainsbourg in the musical comedy Anna in 1967? That was awesome! Sparks flew and gentle music poured forth. Look at Anna Karina and know true beauty (also where Zooey Deschanel got a lot of her chops). Listen to Serge Gainsbourg's compositions and hear the romance. For Valentine's Day—it's no Halloween, but what are you going to do? If you're going to celebrate l'amour, look toward France for inspiration.

Ne dis rien


Roller Girl

Sous le soleil exactement

Friday, February 08, 2013

Buster Keaton in "The General"

The last time you saw a silent film from 1927, I bet you were kicking yourself for not choosing The General instead. Not that there wasn't a fine roster of films in the year 1927, but Buster Keaton's labor of love, The General, consistently ranks up there with one of the best films ever made. Here's why:

As my son noted upon first viewing, "This is one epic train chase." That was definitely the pitch going in for financing, back in 1926. Because Keaton had racked up numerous monetary successes with his comedy shorts, the money men said, "SURE, Buster. You go RIGHT ahead with your nearly feature-length train-chase movie, using actual Civil War-era steam trains and outdoor location shots." After The General failed to profit, there were no more moments left like that in Keaton's career.

For most of the film's gags, Keaton utilizes every conceivable part of the engine while atop a moving 19th-century steam train. His endless imagination made use of the firebox, the tender, the smokestack, the headlight, the coupling rod, and of course, the cow-catcher (gotta use the cow-catcher!). Not to mention, boxcars, train tracks, switch tracks, switches, water towers, a period-era cannon, and trestles. You don't have to be a train nut to enjoy this movie, but it wouldn't hurt.

Keaton can certainly choreograph a fine movie stunt. And he did all of his own in every one of his films. They look like they hurt and yet he was so comically flexible, bouncy and acrobatic, that they're always delightful to behold. The blending of awe with comedy is a rare thing.

Although he's still called "The Great Stone Face," he was actually a very fine actor, using his limber body and expressive eyes to play the underdog in increasingly overwhelming circumstances. He's usually thwarted by large mechanical devices (until he masters them), or racing about on vehicles that take him on wild, treacherous journeys that no one could possibly ever survive. A cosmic every-man in an uncaring industrial landscape.

It's still disappointing to me that he chose to represent the South with his train-engineer character, Johnnie, in The General. Nothing I've read about Keaton leads me to suppose he was pro-slavery. Perhaps he saw the South as the underdog of the war and thought his screen persona would be of that persuasion. He could have easily represented the North in the beginning stages of the war, when their initial poor leadership and lack of aggression caused the conflict to drag on much longer than it should have. He definitely had a firm grasp of the battles waged, spending top-dollar on period costumes and staging huge background scenes with armies on both sides. There's a spectacular stunt, played as a dig on the North's inability to manage its attack that proves he did his research. It continues to sadden me that my favorite underdog is mindlessly fighting for the nightmare that was antebellum South.

I was surprised to learn from the documentary on the Kino DVD release of The General, that the film is based on a true event during the Civil War. An actual steam-train chase-down that was planned and executed by the Union army. Oh, Buster.

And now:

Buster is frequently lovelorn in his films. He always gets the (usually stupid) girl in the end, but his movie persona reflects his own unhappy love life off-screen during the 20s. Lots of girlfriends, incompatible wife. He eventually did meet and experience marital happiness with his third wife.

Athletic leap onto a period-era wooden bike. Ouch.

There he goes! Of course he's riding on a rutted dirt road on a high bank over water. He wouldn't have it any other way.

The lovely, incredulous eyes of Buster Keaton.

Cow-catchers are inherently funny.

The Southern Army retreats behind the oblivious Johnnie.

This is full-on crazy bananas filmmaking. The train stayed in the Cottage Grove, Oregon river for many years, becoming a minor tourist attraction.

Note: don't bother renting Netflix's DVD of The General. It's currently a very poor dub with canned classical music. Buy Kino's double-DVD and see it in its glorious restored form with three different soundtracks and various documentaries. The Blu-ray edition is in high definition—fancy! Better yet, perhaps you will be lucky enough to see it on a big screen with live accompaniment. I did this in San Francisco once and it made my life a richer experience.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Valentines for Real Life

Real life—real love situations. Anyone can give a mushy, sentimental Valentine. It takes GUTS to face real-life love issues HEAD-ON. These Valentines are here to fill a Valentine's Day void. Click to enlarge, print, and give. Then watch the sparks fly! Valentines for all occasions. Even crappy ones.

You drive me crazy! Not in a good way.

Fed up? Give an existential Valentine to the world at large. It'll make you feel better. Maybe.

Having second thoughts? Communicate effectively with this exclusive design. Then run like hell.

Proclaim your voyeuristic desires with this lovely Valentine. No time like the present.

A Valentine threesome! More to love!

Be very honest about your feelings this Valentine's day.

Relationships aren't over 'til they're over. Cut your losses, sister. He ain't gonna change.

Polyamory deserves its day too!

Yes, Valentines for ALL occasions!