Tea for the Bloggerman

Romeo and Juliet: Under Review
August 31, 2008, 4:57 pm
Filed under: literature | Tags: , , , ,

We’re currently reading Romeo and Juliet in my Shakespeare’s tragedies class, so I thought it would be fun to take a look at the one-star reviews of it on Amazon.com. The results will both put a smile on your face and a barrel to your temple:

4 of 38 people found the following review helpful:
1.0 out of 5 stars Gimmie A Break!, July 29, 2005

Not that I don’t like Shakespeare’s works, but his tragedies are terrible, especially this one. I can’t understand the language real well, so I have to grab one with the contemporary language so that it’ll be easier to understand. I just can’t understand this love tragedy at all! Here are some things that confuse me:

*How did this feud really begin?
*Why can’t this story end in happily ever after?
*Why does Lady Capulet have to be so stuck up on everybody?
*Why couldn’t Shakespeare have written in a language we could all understand?
*Why does everybody have to jump to conclusions?

I simply can’t understand why people love this play so much. It’s ridiculous! If you want a true love story, try reading “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. This one absolutely SUCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

2 of 23 people found the following review helpful:
1.0 out of 5 stars stupid student review by gabriel c, February 20, 2007
A Kid’s Review

Romeo and Juliet is a story about to lovers that meet at first sight. The biggest problem they have together is that both of the families have been fighting and hate each other since they both have been born. It all started when Romeo been depressed ever day moping around and feeling sad all of the time because he loved Rosaline and she did not love him back. So one day Romeos cousin told him about this party and that Rosaline would be there so they left and Romeo saw Juliet there and followed her to her house and both exchanged thoughts about each other and decided that they will get married but secretly. So they had to come up with a plan to pretend that Juliet was died so the can get married and the planned failed and they both ended up killing themselves. Play was very stupid it sucks no one should read it because there is no point of reading this because all this play is taking up your time.

6 of 28 people found the following review helpful:
1.0 out of 5 stars the movie was better, May 25, 2005

i just read this book. everybody like always talks about how great it is and everything. but i don’t think so. like, it’s been done before, right?? soooo cliched. omg.


Top Five Albums of the Week — Week 4: August 31st
August 31, 2008, 4:49 pm
Filed under: music | Tags: ,

Week Four: August 31st

1. Station to Station by David Bowie
I found this LP a couple of days ago at the used record store. I’ve listened to the album before getting this record, but now I’ve had the chance to reevaluate it. The title track is excellent, one of Bowie’s finest, and “Wild is the Wind” is stunningly beautiful. The rest of the tracks are good, though not too worthy of mention. The strength of this album is within those two tracks and overall concept of the Thin White Duke. While the Duke is no Ziggy, he is up there with Bowie’s best characters.

2. Blood on the Tracks by Bob Dylan
More preparation for the Dylan concert in San Diego on the 6th. One of the more sophisticated examples of songwriting in the history of popular music. It doesn’t get much better than “Tangled Up in Blue,” even though the one song with the Jack of Hearts gets old rather quickly.

3. Jack O’ Diamonds: 1949 Recordings by John Lee Hooker
I bought this along with the Bowie album and the following two CDs. I’ve been wanting to hear this for a long time and I was rewarded for my patience. Excellent early Hooker, and his guitar is top-notch. A pleasant surprise on this CD is the large number of standards John Lee sings, i.e. “Trouble in Mind,” “Moses Smote the Water,” etc. As the liner notes say, these are songs John Lee would never record again, so to have these home recordings is a real treasure.

4. Second Edition by Public Image Ltd.
While not made of metal nor in a box, the music is still excellent. Some consider P.I.L. to be the first post-rock band, and this record is a prime example of that. No particular tracks stand out since they all sort of blend together. Good job Lydon, Wobble, and Levine.

5. Simple Man by Klaus Nomi
I must admit, I was introduced to Nomi by the Venture Brothers. He looked strange enough to warrant my interest (and he was one of Bowie’s henchmen), so I found “Nomi Song” on youtube. Nomi’s voice is absolutely astounding. If he was born in any other decade he would have been a shining opera star. But his light shone but dimly in the 80s, and before he could rise he was cut down by AIDS. Who knows what he would have done had he lived, but we can appreciate the small amount of work he has left us. Synthesizers and all. R.I.P. Nomi.

Top Five Albums of the Week–Week Three: August 24th “Bobvid Feistie”
August 27, 2008, 12:00 am
Filed under: music, Uncategorized | Tags: ,

A couple of days late but just as great! Lots of Dylan because I will be seeing Bob live on September 6th in San Diego.

1. Highway 61 Revisited by Bob Dylan
Easily Dylan’s greatest album. Every song is a classic. I love the anger and the frustration in this album combined with Mike Bloomfield’s excellent blues guitar and Al Kooper’s electro-fied church organ. This with the single “Positively 4th Street” mark an excellent period in Dylan’s career.

2. Bringing it All Back Home by Bob Dylan
My new personal favorite Dylan album. Down and gritty blues mixed with Dylan’s Ginsbergian poetics. Sometimes loose and chaotic, other times calculated and soothing, but all in all excellent. Highlights: Mr. Tambourine Man, Subterranean Homesick Blues, Maggie’s Farm, and Outlaw Blues.

3. The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars by David Bowie
I love this album, I listen to it all the time. All the time. I can’t estimate how many times I’ve heard the album from first song to last, and it is impossible to count how many times I’ve listened to select individual songs. And the song Ziggy Stardust is one of the only songs I know how to play completely on the guitar. Here are the songs, in order, from best to still fucking good: Lady Stardust, Rock ‘n Roll Suicide, Starman, Hang On to Yourself, Soul Love, Moonage Daydream, Five Years, Ziggy Stardust, Star, Suffragette City, It Ain’t Easy.

4. The Remainder by Feist
An excellent album. I like most of the songs, give or take a couple. Feist has a beautiful voice, and her lyrics and song construction are top-notch. Highlights: My Moon My Man, Limit to Your Love.

5. Time out of Mind by Bob Dylan
Another Bob, but this one later on. More down and gritty blues. Even though I have listened to this album two or three times this week I still haven’t quite LISTENED to it. Not carefully anyway. But I like it. Except that one song…ummm…it’s called…To Make You Feel My Love or something like that. Extremely cheesy. Something Billy Joel would sing. And Billy Joel DID cover it. No disrespect to the Piano Man.

Top Five Albums of the Week: August 17th “John Week”
August 18, 2008, 7:20 pm
Filed under: music | Tags: ,

Lots of Johns this week. Let’s get started.

1. Wicked Grin by John Hammond
I bought this CD in San Diego a few weeks ago with an feeling that it would be good, and it is. I was not a huge fan of Hammond’s vocals at first; I saw his documentary on Robert Johnson and his odd renditions of Johnson’s classics seemed extremely out of place in the middle of rural Mississippi. When it comes to blues guitar, no one can touch Hammond, but when John would stand at the corner of that small delta town singing “Dust My Broom” you could see the confusion on the faces of those people. But his voice grows on you. Just like the man that Hammond covers in this album, Tom Waits. The songs on Wicked Grin are nowhere near as good as Tom’s originals, but I like them. And Tom must like them too. When I saw Tom in Phoenix at the beginning of the Glitter and Doom tour, his performance of “Murder in the Red Barn” was clearly modeled after Hammond’s rendition. Only I wouldn’t realize this until a month later.

2. Amelie by Yann Tiersen
Thanks Lee, you are the best. I love this album, I really do. The first time I hear “Les Jours Tristies” I thought it was horrible. Just like the first time I heard Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits and John Hammond. Yann is extremely talented; no one plays the accordion or toy piano like he does. There is a little toy accordion for sale at F.A.O. Schwartz in Caesar’s Palace that I want to buy simply so I could make sounds resembling the ones on this CD.

3. Safe as Milk by Captain Beefheart
I listened to this CD a number of times this week, mixed in with a listen of Trout Mask Replica and some cuts from the Grow Fins rarities collection. I love Beefheart. I shelled out $18 for a new copy of Trout Mask on a hunch last year simply because of his connection to Frank Zappa. Zappa was a friend of his, Zappa produced Trout Mask, Zappa performed live with the man, it couldn’t be that bad. And it wasn’t bad, in fact it was quite good. Yet unsettling. I couldn’t listen to it through all the way. It took me a couple of days to make my way through the twisted odyssey of sound Beefheart takes you on. But I liked it. Liked it so much that when I saw a used copy of Beefheart’s first album, Safe as Milk, on sale, I bought it instantly. A bit more “normal” than Trout Mask, this is one good solid blues-rock album. A highlight is the first track, “Sure ‘Nuff Baby ‘n Yes I Do,” which I recently learned how to play along with on harmonica (he uses a D harp people!). The copy I have is nice because it is the most recent remastered edition with about nine assloads full of bonus tracks, none of which were recorded during the Safe as Milk sessions. How do you like that? The bonus cuts are great though, mostly instrumental jams. It’s interesting to hear the difference between Safe as Milk guitarist Alex St. Clair and the guitarist on the bonus cuts the great Zoot Horn Rollo. All in All Beefheart is the quintessential desert-induced heatstroke musician. He spent most of his life stuffed in a trailer in the Mojave desert, and when listening to this album on your mp3 player while waiting for the bus under the 115 degree Las Vegas sun, the madness slowly starts to unravel.

4. Paris 1919 by John Cale
This is a strange album. It came into the bookstore I work at and I borrowed it to burn on my computer, but when I heard it I was fascinated by it. I paid for the CD along with another Cale album and listened to it four or five times through. Quite frankly, I don’t know if I like it or not. But it fascinates me. Cale is an amazing musician. From his work with the Velvet Underground to his later solo work, I have nothing but praise for him, but this album is so…restrained. It’s humble and soft, but there is something underneath it that I can’t uncover. I desperately want to hear the original vinyl version of this. Part of the restraint may be due to poor remastering, but I’m not sure.

5. City of Refuge by John Fahey
If I thought the Cale album was strange, then this should knock me into a coma. I had heard some of Fahey’s earlier newgrass/blues/folk recordings and I respected him for the weight of his influence and his work to preserve the many old recordings he found inspiration in (a compilation of old time gospel music released under Fahey’s Revenant label, American Primitive Vol. II, is one of my favorite CDs), but I had not heard enough of him. So when I saw this CD I had to pick it up. This is one of Blind Joe Death’s later recordings, 1997 I believe, and it is very experimental. Most of the album consists of Fahey’s overdriven electric slide guitar playing small, simple melodies in front of what sounds like an old refrigerator. There is one nice bluesy cut somewhere in the middle of it but I can’t tell you the track. The album works as a whole. I had this playing the bookstore one time and a woman with her mother came to the counter. The mother goes “what is that supposed to be?” The daughter says “it’s a guitar.” “Then he needs to tune that guitar!” “I think he’s trying to show all the different sounds you can make on a guitar.” She’s probably as close as one could get.

Top Five Albums of the Week: August 10th
August 10, 2008, 4:08 pm
Filed under: music | Tags: ,

Inspired by Yann Tiersen’s “my vinyl top 5 of the week” blog posts on myspace, I decided to do a similar thing. Here’s a close approximation of the top five CDs/records/digital recordings that I have been listening to during the week. I’m going to try and do this every Sunday.

Top Albums of August 10th

Week One: August 10th **NOW WITH COMMENTS**

1. Low by David Bowie
I probably listened to Aladdin Sane more this week, but I don’t have a real copy of it to take a picture of. So I’ll talk about both. Low gets a lot of praise for being Bowie’s most experimental album, and boy does this experimentation pay off. Bowie and collaborator Brian Eno really deliver in this album, really expressing the “low” Bowie was experiencing at the time (“pale blinds drawn all day/nothing to read, not to say”). Bowie’s Berlin must’ve been both an inspiring and a lonely place to be.

2. The Shepherd’s Dog by Iron & Wine
Sam Beam, America’s next greatest folk singer. This guy can’t seem to miss. Every project he touches is gold. Three studio albums, numerous EPs, covers and collaborations. He’s got the magic. This album is more of a deviation from his usual humble, stripped-down acoustic work. Beam even admitted to finding inspiration in Tom Waits’ avant-Beefgarde breakthrough album Swordfishtrombones. While not nearly as mischievous as Waits, Beam is confident throughout. Love it lots.

3. Greatest Hits, So Far… by Public Image Ltd.
PiL. Most hate them, the rest absolutely adore them. I fall in the 0.01% of people who can’t make up their minds. The early PiL albums are amazing punk-meets-Jamaican-dub crossover efforts, but as the time line continues the albums get progressively worse. Except their last album, That What is Not. I really like that one. John Lydon, make up your mind. Either suck or don’t suck, you can’t be both!

4. The Cream of Clapton by Eric Clapton
Clapton is God. Everything from Cream classics to newer ventures. I am particularly fond of the songs “Bell Bottom Blues,” “Layla,” and “Lay Down Sally.”

5. Greatest Hits by Elton John
Elton John is amazing. I don’t care what you motherfuckers have to say. You listen to “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and tell me it isn’t good. Thems be fightin’ words my friend.