Saturday, December 29, 2007

B-Boy Badness on The Elliptical Trainer: The Albums List

Another year with my ear all over the place. Since my schedule necessitated a gym membership, and the gym music largely isn't my thing, I've been indulging lately with the guilty pleasures: faves from "urban" radio and the stuff of my youth -- hip-hop and dance music. Battle circle music. Funk, breaks and Kraftwerk-inspired electro. B-boy badness on the elliptical trainer.

None of the songs make this list because they're usually singles and/or one-offs from 25-plus years ago. In 2008, I really need to start making monthly playlists again -- my faves covering a fixed period, a way to keep track of great singles that might not be on great albums.

And of also remembering things more deeply. Alas, if music is a foothold in place and time, then one can't live on old memories. So, some new ones:

• A restless night on a crosscountry train trip, listening to Bill Ricchini's latest and watching the lights of a snow-covered Salt Lake City come and go against the blackness of the Great Salt Lake.

• Beulah's opening "goodness knows it's been a wonderful run" after a delayed late night flight into Oakland.

• From The Cinematic Orchestra's latest, Fontella Bass singing the stark meditations "Breathe" and "Familiar Ground" the day my old friend Jeff passed away from cancer. Jeff would play Kool Moe Dee's "I Go to Work" to get us hyped before football games.

I go to work like a boxer
trained and aimed to out fox ya ...
You wanna know my occupation?
I get paid to rock the nation.

I go to work.

If I had to pick highlights from this list, it'd be Sun Ra's Languidity with a nod to Ricci Rucker's samplist's delight Fuga da Voi. I think I've listened to more jazz this year than I have since college. If I were to explain why, you'd think I'd gone off the deep end. But it has to do with light and movement and color and dance. The imagery when listening to it. Agh. I've said to much. Jazz doesn't explain. It doesn't apologize.

Know By Heart
, American Analog Set
Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, Spoon
Free, Fontella Bass
CéU, CéU
Fuga da Voi, Ricci Rucker
Again and Again, Destani Wolf
I'm Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass, Yo La Tengo
Tonight I Burn Brightly, Bill Ricchini
Languidity, Sun Ra
Sound Grammar, Ornette Coleman

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Serial Monogamy: The Book List

To borrow a thought from Total Chaos: With all the reading I have to do for work, when it comes time for my own reading, I want that juicy stuff that drips out of my eye sockets when I read it. Okay, it's not that dramatic. I work earlier hours nowadays and whatever I'm reading on the train must keep me awake. It's also gotta get my synapses snapping before I get into the office, then keep me engaged on the long train ride home.

I don't want reads that linger for months, reading a chapter here and there between chapters from other books. I hate that. I want to devour books whole one right after the other. Serial monogamy reading. One book at the bedside, the rest on the shelf.

And I found that for the most part with Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy. I was hooked, though I'm not surprised The Golden Compass movie is getting mixed reviews. The story is a bit jumbled and maybe not the best fit for film. There's a bit of deus ex machina for too many plot points. But for language and style, and that's my big draw, it's delightful. And suspenseful. If the language is compared to Tolkien, then it's more the fast-moving Hobbit than the trudging Rings.

I'm ambivalent about the surrounding religion debate, though I grew up Catholic and lean more agnostic nowadays. My critical "ism" for books is simply that they hold my interest and spark my imagination. I take these books as-is: Simply a pleasure to read.

The Amber Spyglass
, Philip Pullman
The Subtle Knife
, Philip Pullman
The Golden Compass
, Philip Pullman
How to Draw Hip-Hop
, Damian Scott & Kris Ex
The Beat of Urban Art
, Justin Bua
The Good Fairies of New York
, Martin Millar
Hand to Mouth
, Paul Auster
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
, J.K. Rowling
Total Chaos: The Art and Aesthetics of Hip-Hop
, Jeff Chang
Positively False
, Floyd Landis
From Lance to Landis
, David Walsh
Ten Points
, Bill Strickland

Sunday, December 2, 2007

One Girl, Two Cups

Not much time at The Safe Place this weekend. But I did like this quick sketch:

December's here and it's time to break out the coats

And so we picked up a digital SLR camera this weekend. The neighborhood Costco had a compelling deal that included a telephoto lens, camera bag and memory disc in addition to the camera body and standard lens. I've always wanted to take up photography but never had the time or funds. Not like I do now, but, dang. This is from the initial batch. Nothing special, there is a learning curve, mind you. Maybe I'll revisit this shot after I know what I'm doing.


Speaking of splurging, a shot (non-SLR) from the How to Draw Hip-Hop book mentioned in a previous post: