bobquasit: (Default)
I'm enjoying the hell out of this song tonight. Just heard it during an interview of the Dropkick Murphys on NPR, and I had to go find it on YouTube immediately!

Take 'Em Down


Apr. 23rd, 2010 12:01 am
bobquasit: (Sebastian Riding)
Sebastian and I went with my father to see They Might Be Giants in Boston today. It was a public concert on the space between the Aquarium and the Rose Kennedy Greenway. Dad had to leave after a while; rock really isn't his genre. But Sebastian and I stayed through the whole thing and had a lot of fun. Here here is with a mysterious penguin-like creature who was wandering about:

bobquasit: (Sebastian Riding)
I'm the nostalgic type. I remember a lot of my favorite things from when I was a child, and I try to share them with Sebastian.

Books, for example; I have a copy of almost every old book that I loved as a young boy. I've managed to get copies of some of those old TV shows and specials, too (although I still haven't managed to get Hodge Podge Lodge, unfortunately).

Records were a bigger problem. My turntable died not too many years after I bought my first CD player - which was one of the first CD players on the market - and I hadn't picked up a new one. Many of my particular favorites were never reissued on CD, and some couldn't be obtained even in LP form. They seemed to be completely forgotten.

Most of those favorite old records had been lost over the years, but my parents still had a few of them. There were three that I remembered particularly fondly: dramatizations of the lives of Mozart, Beethoven, and Bach. All that was left was the Mozart LP, and that was almost certainly in terrible condition. Sebastian is still young enough to enjoy those records, but time was running out...and I've never seen them on eBay or anywhere else.

Fast-forward to last month. Teri bought me a USB turntable for my birthday. I ordered a record-cleaner, which arrived on Friday; I tried to use it to clean The Story of Mozart. The record had been stored directly in the jacket for thirty years, and was very, very dusty. When I finished, the record looked clean. But as it played, large balls of dust were plowed up out of the grooves. The recording sounded terrible, with lots of loud hissing, strange distortions, and loud clicks from scratches. I worked the results over with the Audacity software that had come with the turntable, and was impressed at how much the results were improved. But they were still pretty poor.

Nonetheless I made a CD for Sebastian. I also decided to make the mp3 available online, because as far as I knew I was the only person who remembered that series and I thought it deserved to reach a new generation. I started to annotate the mp3 before posting it. But neither the jacket nor the label on the LP included the year that it was recorded! So I Googled "Tale-Spinners for Children", and found...a site that has mp3s of all 49 records in the series, plus dozens of recordings from similar series! The site's copy of The Story of Mozart sounds MUCH better than mine.

I suppose if you're old and cynical, you may not be able to enjoy these recordings. I'm sorry, if that's the case. But if you know any young children, you'd be doing them a favor to let them listen to some of these.

Tale-Spinners for Children

WGBH sucks

Nov. 29th, 2009 09:10 pm
bobquasit: (Default)
Thanks, WGBH. By transferring all your classical programming to WCRB's pathetically weak signal, you've successfully deprived southeastern Massachusetts and northern Rhode Island of our only source for classical radio. Your suggestion that listening online or buying an internet radio is just as good is just the sort of clueless elitism I'd expect.

And by killing off all jazz programming on 89.7, you've managed to take jazz radio away from us, to boot. My little boy is extremely disappointed; he wanted to know why there would never be jazz on his bedside radio ever again, and I had no explanation to give him.

For the record, this sort of stupid, arrogant programming decision is exactly why I will never donate to public radio or television again.


Oct. 27th, 2009 12:06 pm
bobquasit: (Default)
Lots to tell about.

My hand still hurts, so I'm taking a regular dose of ibuprofen twice a day. The bruising has faded somewhat.

I still can't put pressure on it in the direction I fell; it hurts too much. I called the urgentcare clinic where I had it x-rayed, and they confirmed that it's not broken. I may call my doctor if it doesn't feel a lot better soon.
Read more... )


Sep. 25th, 2009 03:02 pm
bobquasit: (Default)
This video just gave me the chills.

bobquasit: (Default)
I hadn't seen this video for a long time. And I can't believe that Dawn French and Hugh Laurie were in it! Is there anything Hugh Laurie wasn't in?

bobquasit: (Default)
I found this while looking for a way to make a sensible comment on an entry by [ profile] fireheart, and I have to say I like it a lot!
bobquasit: (Default)
And while I'm at it, here's PROOF that virtually anything can be found on YouTube: PDQ Bach's The Stoned Guest. It's the whole album in four parts. The only thing that's missing is the very funny "Opera Whiz" feature from the intermission.

My father used to play this a lot when I was little, and now I'm playing it for Sebastian (I have the actual album, fortunately). The funny thing is that Sebastian's favorite part is when Don Octave sings "For the first time in my life, I'm going to do something right!", slips, and accidentally stabs himself in the heart with a horrible scream. :D
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Someone over on Askville had a brilliant idea a while ago. Perhaps I shouldn't be surprised that she's relatively new to the net.

Once a day, she asks "What song is stuck in your head today?". People respond by giving links to one or more songs on YouTube. I hadn't realized that almost every imaginable song is now available on YouTube. It's really amazing.
bobquasit: (Default)
For the last couple of days I've been listening to the first disc of The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway over and over and over...
bobquasit: (Default)
When Teri and Sebastian picked me up at the train station tonight, a song was playing on the CD player. It was "Triops Has Three Eyes" by They Might Be Giants, from their new CD Here Come the 123s. Now, the weird thing is that that song has been totally stuck in my head for the last couple of days - and I'd forgotten to put the MP3 on my MP3 player and didn't have it at work, so I was dying to hear it at the very moment that it was playing in the car.

What's more, it was on repeat! All by Sebastian's request, of course. It turned out that the same song has been going through his head for the last couple of days, too. We're so alike sometimes that it's hard to believe. And it's not as though we'd talked about the song earlier or anything like that...weird!

Hey, here's a link to a video of Triops Has Three Eyes!

Sleep MP3s

Jul. 18th, 2008 09:31 am
bobquasit: (Default)
Since I often sleep on the train in the mornings (and sometimes in the evenings, now that I usually can find a seat), I decided to make a "sleep" folder in my MP3 player:
The Cranberries - Linger
The Cranberries - Ode to My Family
10,000 Maniacs - Verdi Cries
Joan Baez - Banks of the Ohio
Sarah Mclachlan - Ordinary Miracle
Sarah Mclachlan - Song for a Winter's Night
Sufjan Stevens - No Man's Land
Suzanne Vega - Gypsy
They Might Be Giants - Idlewild

Altogether they last about 31 minutes, which is a good amount of time for a nap.
bobquasit: (Default)
Here's a video of Sebastian singing to himself while sitting on a rock at the seashore. This was taken at Pemaquid Point in Maine, near the Pemaquid lighthouse. Unfortunately I must have put my thumb over the microphone in the middle of the video.

There's something about listening to a little kid singing to themself that always kills me. It makes me feel like Holden Caulfield, if that makes any sense.

That's my father talking to Sebastian from off-camera toward the end of the video, by the way.
bobquasit: (Default)
It was a good day, today.

My parents had tickets to see Peter and the Wolf at the Longy School in Cambridge today. The three of us were going, along with my brother and his family and my parents, of course. It would be Sebastian's first time at a real concert.

As we were heading out the door, I had a moment of inspiration and grabbed The Story of Doctor Dolittle. Sebastian had been absolutely eating it up; we were getting through it at a tremendous rate. There were still a few chapters left, but it seemed like a good idea to read it to him on the way up.

The thing that's great about that book is that there are some lovely pictures, but only every few pages. I can sit in the front seat and read to him, and pass it back for him to look at the pictures as they come up. He laughed and laughed at some parts, and was really enjoying himself.

On the way, in Brookline (not far from where James Taylor lives), we had quite a surprise. Trotting down the sidewalk in broad daylight was a coyote! It wasn't particularly large, but there was no mistaking it: it was definitely a coyote. Sebastian got a very good look at it, and his jaw simply dropped in astonishment.

He used to be scared of coyotes, but now that he's seen one, he's not afraid any more. Or nowhere near as much, anyway.

When we got to my parents house, I literally was on the next-to-last page - and the last page was only 1/3 full. So I finished reading the book before we got out of the car. It's such a lovely story! And the ending is quite touching. I always thought it was, anyway. It makes my blood boil that idiots persist in bowdlerizing the Doctor Dolittle series.

Anyway, we picked up my father (my mother wasn't feeling well enough to come with us), and headed over to Cambridge.

It was surprisingly nice to see Harvard Square again after so long! It's dead to me, in many ways; all my favorite places are long gone, destroyed by a bunch of greedy developers who I frankly think deserve to be suffocated by having their millions of dollars shoved down their throats. But I saw a new used book store that looked interesting, so maybe the pendulum is starting to swing in the other direction.

The parking, as always, was a nightmare. But we were able to find a space about a ten-minute walk from the school. When we got there, my brother and his family were already there; they'd saved seats for us.

The auditorium was much smaller than I'd expected, and the stage was set for five players only. I revised my expectations sharply. The whole place was packed, incidentally.

While we were waiting, Sebastian surprised me by counting the panels on the ceiling over the stage - correctly. There were fourteen of them. He's been surprising me a lot, lately. For one thing, his reading ability is growing by leaps and bounds. He's not totally literate yet, but he can read most simple books and puzzle out most words. Of course, if he thinks he can make me or Teri tell him what the word is, he won't even try. But if we're not right there, we've heard him read quite well - and sound out words. He's also surprised me with his memory for lyrics.

While I'm at it, I can't remember if I've already mentioned it but Sebastian has gone mad for Godzilla lately. His favorite YouTube video is a set of clips of Godzilla to the tune of Blue Oyster Cult's Godzilla, and he sings that song almost all the time. He's full of questions about Godzilla, his many enemies, and Gamera too. Did I mention that I picked up Godzilla toy on sale for him recently? And that he's asking Santa for Mechagodzilla?

Back to the concert. There were, in fact, only five performers plus a storyteller - a professor of anthropology from Providence. To be quite honest, I was a bit disappointed. The kids enjoyed the show, mostly, and the music was rather well-done. But Peter and the Wolf really needs more than a clarinet, a flute, an oboe, a French horn, and a bassoon to be performed properly. And why did they pick an anthropologist? They should have picked a professional voice actor! The professor wasn't bad, but early on Teri leaned over to me and whispered that I could have done it much better. It may sound vain, but I know that she's right. I am good at narration and reading aloud - really very good indeed - and years of listening to the Boris Karloff recording of Peter and the Wolf have given me a very strong feeling for the pace and emphasis of that particular work.

In fact, I found that I'd memorized the whole thing. So I was murmuring the lines as the narrator said them.

They did make a change at the end. Rather than leaving it up to the music to make it clear that the wolf threw up the duck (alive), the narrator explicitly said that the wolf coughed her up alive. I thought that a bit weak, but the five-piece group of instruments simply wasn't powerful enough to convey that point by music alone.

As for the other pieces, there was a short performance of The Teddy-Bear's Picnic which pretty much sailed over the heads of the kids in the audience, probably because there were no words or narration to it. There was also a rather poor modern (1997) performance set to music of one of Aesop's fables, The Lion and the Mouse; rather than use the instruments to represent the animals, the whole thing was a rather chaotic mood piece. Again, I felt that it failed to reach most of the kids. Peter and the Wolf came next, and it was clear that a lot of the kids in the audience were familiar with it. They liked it, but towards the end some of the children were getting cranky, and some very small children (babies, really, who should not have been brought by their parents) were crying. Lastly there was a surprisingly short version of The Sorcerer's Apprentice. It was okay, but again, five instruments really couldn't do it justice. During that last piece Sebastian started getting a little fidgety, and laid down on the coats on the floor at my feet. But he really wasn't too bad.

After that we all went to Bertucci's and had a surprisingly nice meal together. We took my father home, spent a little time visiting, and then drove home. Sebastian was alert for much of the trip, but fell asleep in the last fifteen minutes. When we got home and woke him he begged us to carry him into the house. Teri tried, but he was simply too heavy. By the time we finally got him into the house, though, he'd started to wake up. Teri went to bed pretty early, but Sebastian amazed me by staying up almost an hour and a half past his usual bedtime, listening to me read chapter after chapter of The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle. Unfortunately this edition turns out to be bowdlerized; I'm going to check at the library to see if the original version is available.

Whew! That's the story. It felt like an awfully short weekend, but a good one. Time for me to go to sleep myself! Tomorrow I'll catch up by writing about the results of the allergy test last week. I'd made a voice post, but the auto-transcribe feature doesn't seem to be working any more - even though the post was well under the three-minute limit. I hope to catch up replying to some comments, and to write some comments to posts in my flist. Good night!
bobquasit: (Default)
All in all, a good Thanksgiving. On the way to Teri's brother's place for dinner, I started reading The Story of Doctor Dolittle; our library turned out to have an edition with the original, uncensored text.

I was amazed at how much Sebastian loved it. Teri's working all day tomorrow, so it's just him and me, and he suggested that we read it during the day. I'm so glad!

While I'm at it...I had the radio on while I was taking a shower this morning, tuned to an NPR station that plays classical music during the day. They played Beethoven's Ninth. My father played classical music all the time when I was a kid, so I developed an appreciation for it, plus a decent ear at recognizing composers. While I detected what I considered to be a few flaws in the performance, nonetheless the Ninth once again filled me with strong, almost rapturous emotion. And that reminded me that although I've shared many wonderful things with Sebastian, including as many as possible of the best things that I remember from my own childhood, I haven't been able to share much classical music with him. In that regard, he will probably be poorer than me.

I'd like to find some way to do something about that. But I don't think Teri would put up with it. It would have to be frequently on in the background, because if we made it a once-in-a-while thing, like taking medicine, Sebastian almost certainly wouldn't take to it. But as far as I know Teri really isn't into classical music.
bobquasit: (Sam - Holy ^@%#!)
Everyone here probably already knows about - in this case, I suspect that I'm a late adopter. But just in case someone out there hasn't tried it yet, you'd better try it while you can. A recent FCC ruling may force it and most other internet radio stations off the air before too much longer.

What I love about Pandora is that you tell it one or more artists or songs that you like, and it picks out other songs and artists for you that it thinks that you'll like based on the music's "genome". It's not perfect, of course; mine keeps playing some annoying country songs because I told it I liked Led Zeppelin's "Hot Dog". But it has found a lot of songs that I do like, very much. Some of them are songs that I heard a long time ago, liked, but never found out who sang them; I ended up forgetting about them.

It's just a great tool. I'd hate to see it disappear.
bobquasit: (Default)
I know someone on my flist already mentioned them, but yesterday I tried at the suggestion of someone at work.

So far I'm having a lot of fun with it!
bobquasit: (Default)
I'm giggling right now, because I would LOVE to see your faces as you listen to this. (NOTE: This is now an mp3, since WMA was a problem).

John Jacob Niles was...unique. VERY unique. When I was a little boy, my mother used to play a record of his folk songs. He was unusual in that he actually wrote folk songs, as well as performing traditional ones.

And his singing voice is really like no one else's. I'm afraid that some of you may turn it off after the first three seconds (if that)...well, it's a pretty low-quality recording. I'm going to try to get the CD of his music, and see if I can put up something better.

Incidentally, this recording is something of a rarity. Why? Because there's a glitch in the HTML of the site that I got it from, the official John Jacob Niles site. I had to work a little to figure out the right URL for the WMA, and enter it manually. EDIT: And now I've converted it to an MP3. If you want to reach the original WMA file, go here.

I'd like to hear what you think of it, and I really won't be offended if you don't like it. This medley isn't a very good representation of his music. It's just so weird that I had to post it.

Incidentally, something else odd about John Jacob Niles: he looked a lot like my maternal grandfather, at least on the album cover. I think that's another reason that I like him.

Oingo Wonka

Sep. 7th, 2006 09:07 am
bobquasit: (Sebastian Riding)
If you like Oingo Boingo, I have good news: Danny Elfman did at least five songs for "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" which are basically new Oingo songs. He even sings on them.

Right now Sebastian is a huge fan of the movie, and sings along with the songs. Our favorite is "Augustus Gloop", but Sebastian sings it as "Augustus Gloops" - I wish I could record him singing "Augustus Gloops will not be harmed", because it's just too cute.


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