December 2006 Archives

R.I.P. J.B. part II

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WFMU, BoingBoing and MetaFilter have all linked to it, so I might as well too: the six-hour, all-James Brown WFMU show I did five years ago today.

For a shorter, concentrated blast: try this blinding display of showmanship from the TAMI Show or this wobbly but blazing "Brother Rapp"/"Ain't It Funky Now" performance from the Olympia in Paris in March 1971.

R.I.P. J.B.

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A sad day.

Collecting my thoughts, still, but it looks like I'll be talking about him on Democracy Now! tomorrow morning. [EDITED TO ADD: No I'm not. They couldn't get the video link from Portland to work.]

take the money and the gear

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A great big two-disc comp of MP3s of 2006 songs, with notes, is up at Paper Thin Walls--I wrote about Laura Barrett's startling "Robot Ponies."

three things that made me smile

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1. This quotation (via my friend Robin): a footnote to the vertebrate limb development chapter in the NCBI online edition of S. Gilbert's Developmental Biology text:

When referring to the hand, one has an orderly set of names to specify each digit (digitus pollicis, d. indicis, d. medius, d. annularis, and d. minimus, respectively, from thumb to little finger). No such nomenclature exists for the pedal digits, but the plan proposed by Phillips (1991) has much merit. The pedal digits, from hallux to small toe, would be named porcellus fori, p. domi, p. carnivorus, p. non voratus, and p. plorans domi, respectively.

2. This fourteen-second video, forwarded to me by my friend John.

3. I now have my good chair in my office again, after three years of going without, and it feels so good. It's amazing how much access to a really good chair can improve the pleasantness of being at one's desk.

powerful gales

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I've got a piece up at Salon, about the new Popeye collection; it appears that one throwaway line in it about Popeye's speech patterns has really annoyed a bunch of people.

down to two senses

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Back from NYC, and although I've got plenty of listening-related work to do, I don't have a lot to do it with: I made the mistake of flying with sinus issues and a residual cold, and consequently I've got temporarily impaired hearing on top of no sense of smell or taste. (There is a lime tree flowering a few feet away from me, and I can't smell it at all.)

So I'm spending a few days doing low-effort pleasure-listening only, which is convenient, because I'm swimming in stuff I don't have to hear but want to: the 1966 volume of The Complete Motown Singles, the Invictus Soul Box Set, and the CD I've been reaching for more than anything else this week, Gwigwi Mrwebi's Mbaqanga Songs, recorded in 1967, reissued by Honest Jon's this year, and just the kind of magisterially played dopey little groove instrumentals that I can listen to endlessly.

Portland's got a new radio format: uptempo pop-dance hits past and present on KVMX. Janet Jackson seems to be the format's patron saint; a half-hour drive today also encompassed "I Will Survive," "Into the Groove" and something or other by the Time. As it turns out, although the format is technically called "rhythmic adult contemporary," it is exactly the sort of thing the 20-month-old in the back seat digs. (Also see Alex Ross's priceless dig at radio advertisers' priorities today.)

A publicist sent me a reproducible link to the MP3 of Bossanova's excellent, gaudy eight-minute neo-drone-disco triple lutz of a song "Rare Brazil," so there you go. The album's called Hey Sugar and it's on Teenbeat. Not rare, not Brazilian, not bossa nova; a little closer to the literal bossa nova, new wave. Really, the part that does it most for me is that fluttering synth lead part that carries the instrumental final third of the song.

the shimmering gooey veil

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Oh heck. It's been a bit, hasn't it?

Anyway: I've got a graphic novel roundup up at the New York Times right now, and have been running around New York like a headless Tofurky, taking brutal advantage of my editors' dining expense accounts and my friends' patience with me. And developing what I attempted to will into being just an allergic reaction to something in the apartment, but has ultimately manifested itself as a Sudafed Big Gulp of a cold. Hence loopy. Hence also not posting as much as I ought to.

I did, however, get to see this week's batch of Suzan-Lori Parks' 365 Days/365 Plays, thanks to the excellent Liz G. A bit like a staging of a particularly good NaNoWriMo, a bit like Kenneth Koch's undeservedly out-of-print One Thousand Avant Garde Plays.

Plus: Shortbus, which is lovely in a very Me and You and Everyone We Know way, and made me miss New York the way that New York itself doesn't so much at this point, and yes, I recognized a bunch of people in it. Going to Rubulad for years will do that.

More when the Sudafed hallucinations wear off.