Saturday, August 29, 2009

No more Reading Rainbow!

I'm extremely sad to hear that after 25 years, Reading Rainbow is going off the air. Like the passing of Mr. Rogers, a part of my childhood is gone.

Wholesome and unassuming, the show was a complete antithesis to today's prototypical programming which usually has to have some sort of hook or attitude. But I recall even years (or decades ago) when watching, I sensed that it didn't try to have any kind of edge or gimmick to compete with Sesame Street or other shows.

I had heard years ago that the show was in danger of being cancelled and LeVar Burton begged and pleaded for funding. I feel such disappointment for the passing of a great program that fostered a love for reading. I'm sad not just for my own sense of nostalgia but for the kids today who are going to miss out.

And who's mind wasn't blown when you first saw LeVar in a Star Trek uniform?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Quick thoughts on a couple of albums

I'd always been more of a casual fan of The Decemberists. I liked the music but never got excited enough to really pay attention to them. I think Colin Meloy's vocals aren't the easiest thing to absorb. Nonetheless, I'd collected a few of their albums.

So when The Hazards of Love was released, I didn't notice. I heard a few positive reviews and was willing to check them out until a friend gave it a thumbs down. Months later, I casually click on a track on an online music site, Lala. I gotta say, I immediately fell in love with the album.

The story goes that Meloy wanted to create a rock opera. And that he did. Parallels to Pink Floyd's The Wall are inevitable. Both tell stories utilizing various characters and musical themes. Meloy one-ups Pink Floyd by bringing in other singers to help create more distinct characterizations. I especially like the lower timbre of Shara Worden, from My Brightest Diamond, for the Queen.

In "The Wanting Comes the Waves/Repaid", she sings "And so..." with such a looming, low voice that I get chills every time I hear it.

There's a nice, in-depth interpretation of the album's opera story for anyone interested.

The album's been getting some mixed reviews, and I can assuredly predict that several of my friends won't be as impressed as I am. Maybe I have a soft spot for the epic, theatrical romance.

It's not like The Decemberists are inventing anything new here. But in the day of YouTube and shuffling playlists, it's refreshing to hear a band that is attempting a cohesive, long-form musical experience rather than a hit single.


The Dodos have released a new album and I caught it much quicker than The Decemberists. The Dodos' latest, Time to Die, is yet to be released on CD but is widely available digitally.

Much of it will be familiar to existing fans, but I was definitely surprised by some of the sounds on the album. I need to spend more time with it, but I sense more of a vibrant, energetic approach.

I keep reading that "this isn't Visiter" which is universally accepted as a great album. I agree it's not. There are fewer standouts on Time to Die, but it's got enough nice elements to make it worth the time to hear.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Menswhere : London Calling

Love the look of the new Drykorn line for Winter 09. Something about the British/Euro look that has always appealed to me.

Not sure if I have the guts to pull off plaid pants. Although it's not like I haven't worn crazier stuff out in public.

My recent unemployment (and resulting poverty) has derailed any attempt at styling up my wardrobe, which depresses me. Ragged t-shirts and jeans it is!