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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Really Cool Artist

A person I work with introduced me to Henry Darger a few weeks ago. He was an artist that lived in Chicago from about 1890 till the mid 1970s. He is a great example of the "Outsider Art" genre. He also wrote a book entitled: The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What Is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinnian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion, which is over 15,000 pages long. That's right 15,000 pages!!!

Here's a link to some of his paintings, check them out he is a really interesting guy.

I also wonder if you can purchase his book. I can't find it on Amazon.com at all.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

My Favorite Albums of 2011

With 2011 coming to an end and 2012 just around the corner, it is time for me to release my Top 10 Favorite albums list of 2011. Word of warning, this is not a best of list, because it is all-subjective in the end. Not only that, to actually determine whether an album is “truly a best of” I feel that you must allow sometime to pass, maybe a year or two, to properly determine the quality of the work. But that is another topic for another blog. Let us begin.

10. Los Campesinos! – Hello Sadness. If you are looking for a high octane, fast paced album, check out Hello Sadness. Los Campesinos! always deliver albums that sty true to the spirit of punk rock.



9. Tom Waits- Bad As Me. This is Tom Waits’ first album of new material in almost a decade. And it does not disappoint, it is a pretty standard Waits album. It just showcases how great of a songwriter Waits is. I highly recommend the first six songs.



8. Nirvana- Nevermind: The 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition. No it is not a new album, and I am usually not a fan of “remastered editions”, but this deluxe edition is well worth the money. In addition to the stand-alone album, you get a disc and a half of live tracks, b-sides, demos, and rarities. For me the real highlight is disc 2, which has an absolutely amazing live version of Something in the Way recorded at the BBC.



7. Moby- Destroyed. Over the past few years, I have really become a fan of Moby’s work. I find the music quite complex, but yet simplistic at the same time. Destroyed is no exception. It is a great album to listen to on headphones, in fact that is my preferred way of listening to it. It allows you to hear all of the sounds on the album.



6. The Weeknd- House of Balloons. Released as a free mix cd in the early part of the year, this was the first album I had heard from The Weeknd. And it blew me away. This album highlights the dark side of life such as sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll. And they pair these topics up with some of the dopest beats I have ever heard.



5. The Black Keys- El Camino. The Black Keys continue to blow me away. This is their second album in about 18 months. And it is straight up blues-rock. Heavy guitars and pounding drums, it will get your feet tapping within seconds of hitting the play button.



4. Middle Brother- Middle Brother. Just like El Camino, this album is a guitar heavy album. Pure southern rock/alt country sounds hit the stereo speakers on every track. It really reminds me of the Sun Records sound from the 1950s. Blue Eyes might be my song of the year.



3. Frank Turner- England Keep My Bones. HOLY CRAP!!! Is this a great album. Turner covers a wide range of topics on this album, from friendship to religion, and the power of rock n’ roll. And though I do not agree with everything Turner says on this album, I have nothing but respect for him as an artist. This is a brave album, and will be like a fine wine. As it ages, it will only get better.



2. NewVillager- NewVillager. Boy this is a cool sounding album. I mean it really sounds cool. Produced by a group of artists, the visuals play just as an important role in the music, as the music itself. I highly recommend watching as many of their videos as you possible can.



1. William Elliott Whitmore- Field Songs. I love this album. 9 songs that capture the feeling and struggle of the middle class/ working poor of the United States. The album is breath taking. It is poetic, yet simplistic. A celebration of nature and the human spirit. Whitmore continues to grow and develop as an artist. The way he is developing, I see him becoming the voice of a generation, much like Johnny Cash or Tom Waits. If there is one album you were going to buy this year, you should buy this one.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Legend of Peter's Eve

It all began in the fall of 1993. I was in Mrs. Steinmetz’s 4th grade class. It was there that I learned insects were to be called insects not bugs, that my hands could create a Paper Mache Baltimore Oriole, no matter how hard I tried to sabotage my own creation, and finally that needle pointing was a lot more difficult then it looked. But all of this paled in comparison to the truly important event. My tenth birthday, a milestone of epic proportions. No longer a single digiter, I was going to enter double digits in age.

Legend had it that you were never really the same after you made the plunge. Food didn’t taste the same, you couldn’t watch cartoons anymore, you were expected to act like an adult? But it wasn’t all that bad. Since it was such a big milestone, it meant that you got more presents, better presents. That is why every child in the history of childom took the plunge. And I was no different.

As the calendar changed from November to December, my excitement level grew by leaps and bounds everyday. Each new day brought me a day closer to my destiny. The cake, the attention, and most importantly the presents. It was beginning to be too much for my young mind to handle. The pressure was beginning to get the best of me.

Then it came, December 15th. The day before my birthday. Now as any person can testify too, the day before something you have been really looking forward to, whether it is a family vacation, a break from school, or your birthday, is the LONGEST DAY OF YOUR LIFE! But for a kid, it is even worse. It felt like two whole days put together just to spite me. Was the universe playing some cruel joke on me?

The thought of this brought great fear into my young and impressionable mind. Because this was the longest day in recorded history, would my family and friends somehow forget that tomorrow was my birthday? Yes, yes they would. Panic began to come over me. I could not allow this to happen. I had to think of a way to gently and politely remind everyone that tomorrow was not just any ordinary day. It was a special day, it was my tenth birthday, and we were going to remember it whether they wanted to or not!

Then it happened. I do not remember who I said it too first, or the time of day, but at some point, I blurted it out. TODAY IS PETER’S EVE, I cried. There were blank stares all around. I needed to reason with them. I had to justify my inane rambling. If Christmas could have an eve, if New Year’s could have an eve, why couldn’t I have an eve too? Peter’s Eve, boy did it sound good, it just rolled off the tongue. I was onto something. So for the rest of the day, anyone I met, I had to inform him or her that it was Peter’s Eve.

Much to my surprise it began to catch on. People began wishing me a Happy Peter’s Eve. Friends, teachers, and finally my parents are bought into it. It worked; I had successful created a new Holiday to remind everyone of my birthday. And the rest as they say is history. To this day, I receive messages from people wishing me a Happy Peter’s Eve. So this December 15th, remember to wish you and yours a very Happy Peter’s Eve.