Amoeblog

(In which Job enjoys a field trip.)

Posted by Job O Brother, August 3, 2009 03:37pm | Post a Comment

Yesterday, the boyfriend decided to surprise me with a spontaneous field trip to The Museum of Jurassic Technology, located in Culver City. It was my first time there, even though I’d been pining to attend for over four years, and it was not a disappointment.

It’s hard to explain how lovable the Museum is to people who’ve never been, because one doesn’t want to spoil its mystique and novelty, and explaining its merit to those who have experienced it is hardly necessary, assuming, as I do, that everyone is charmed by it. (I suppose there could be some whimsy-less, emotional cripples who wouldn’t appreciate it, but I’d like to think they have no interest in either my blog or my company. Humph!)

If your idea of a dream house is The Haunted Mansion at Disneyland...


...if your idea of a fashion magazine is The Delineator...


...or if your shopping choice for bric-a-brac is Necromance on Melrose, then The Museum of Jurassic Technology is your idea of fun day out.

Highlights for me were an appropriately tiny collection of works by Hagop Sandaldjian, the Egyptian-born violinist-turned-microminiaturist, whose sculptures are displayed at the Museum, each situated on the head of a pin (see picture below), with a magnifying glass poised to illuminate for you each impossibly small figure.


Also deeply gratifying was their exhibit of artifacts culled from Los Angeles area mobile homes and trailer parks, replete with gloomy dioramas of various homes-on-wheels set against urban nightscapes. Oddly shaped cases, reminiscent of coffins, showcased vintage perfume bottles, tatting, and other knick-knacks.


I was seduced, too, by the Delani/Sonnabend Halls, which told the stories of operatic singer Madelena Delani, who was (likely) afflicted with Korsakoff's syndrome, a condition which handicapped her short-term memory; how her life touched that of neurophysicist, Geoffrey Sonnabend, is revealed subtly, and we continue to learn more about this man’s work, devoted as it became, to understanding why humans “forget,” culminating in his three volume work: Obliscence - Theories of Forgetting and the Problem of Matter.


Pictured here? Madelena Delani & Geoffrey Sonnabend

That personal research yields little to prove the existence of such people remains moot when considering the delight their tales bring. While it is folly to whole-heartedly trust that everything you witness at the Museum is factual, it does not stop its complex and diverse exhibits from effusing a general radness.

It’s not surprising, sadly, that the Museum is in dire straits, financially speaking, and I encourage all of you who have never been or who love it already to investigate its treasures. And invite me along! I’m ready to go back already.


Yes, please!

Upon leaving, I had a taste for two things: Indian sweets, which I acquired at a shop a mere block away from the museum, and art songs, often called lieder (which is simply German for “songs”).

While there can be no definitive definition of what constitutes an art song, many works within the Romantic-era of classical music qualify. As a general rule of thumb (or in some countries, the forefinger and one-half the pinky) an art song is a composition for voice, usually solo, accompanied most often by piano (but could be another instrument), though in some cases a chamber ensemble is used.


While composers as early as Mozart and Beethoven wrote material in this vein, most consider the golden age of the art song to begin with (and be embodied by) Franz Schubert, who wrote over 600 of the suckers, with its tradition famously continued in the likes of Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms, and Hugo Wolf.

Amazing variations on this craft occurred later when more modern composers such as Richard Strauss (a personal favorite) and Gustav Mahler, among others, wrote songs that were accompanied by a symphony orchestra.


(You David Lynch fans may recognize the above music as being featured in the film Wild At Heart. The piece, entitled Im Abendrot, is by Richard Strauss and totally gives me a boner in my heart.)

Again, compositions similar to this were written throughout time, making defining an art song somewhat elusive. It’s best, I think, more sensible to determine what is an art song rather than what isn’t. I also think it’s more sensible to wear shoes on the outside of the body, rather than inside. I’m a very uptight individual.


As we departed the wondrous Museum of Jurassic Technology, I cranked up a recording of some songs by American composer Amy Beach.


"What up niggaz and niggettes -That crazy-Ass-Beach is back in the motherfuckin' hizzouse!"

Born (perhaps unwisely) in 1867, Beach was a child prodigy, composing music as early as four years old. (I mean, dude – what was I doing at that age? Like, stealing chocolate chips and pretending my sandbox was a “fancy bar” of which I was the owner, overlooking its occupants with the aid of my magic powers, ability to fly, and pet Pegasus. [The bar was doing well until one day, a centipede was spotted in the middle of it, causing myself and the bar’s imaginary occupants to flee, never to return. It languished as wild grasses claimed it and I discovered reruns of Johnny Sokko and his Flying Robot.])



Contrary to the societal norm, Amy Beach was not only a composer, but a woman, and no amount of protest seemed to convince her to change this. In fact, her husband encouraged her to switch her focus from performing piano to composing her own work. She eventually stopped writing in 1944, when her death made it too cumbersome and janky.

I couldn't, unfortunately, find recordings of Beach's art songs online that I felt did them justice. Instead, here's some of her other efforts:






Now then, why not take a trip down to Culver City to see the aforementioned Museum? Why, here’s a link to the Museum’s hours of operation – how convenient! And seriously folks, invite me along!

(In which Job noshes nog.)

Posted by Job O Brother, December 22, 2008 09:04pm | Post a Comment
Okay – I just took my first sip of egg nog. Laced, as it is, with a healthy dose of Maker’s Mark, we shall see what, if any, impact it has on my blog writing.

Today has been devoted to wrapping gifts and last-minute shopping. Guess where I went for the shopping.

If you guessed Amoeba Music, you guessed correctly. Point for your team. If you guessed the Lost City of Atlantis, you’re not only wrong, but your grasp on reality is tentative, to say nothing of your lack of knowledge of where to find bargains. No one ever saved money exploring the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. You can quote me on that.

*second sip of egg nog*

Anyone knows that Lemuria is where the good sales are.

*third sip of egg nog*

I’ve worked at Amoeba Music Hollywood for over four years now, but when I shop there, it still feels new and thrilling and yes, sometimes overwhelming, though in the same way that Disneyland is overwhelming. You know – so much fun to be had + if only I could use a bulldozer to get through these swarms of people!

I can’t tell you what I found because I was shopping for my boyfriend Corey who, for some ridiculous reason, actually reads my blog. Probably to make sure I don’t tell you about his embarrassing habit of biting fingernails. Not just his own fingernails. Anyone’s. He’ll gnaw your digits as soon as look at you. It’s a problem, and has gotten us kicked out of more than one function.


One night, while attending a performance of Puccini's "La Bohème" at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, we were escorted out right in the middle of one of my favorite arias, "Sì, mi chiamano Mimì" (which, loosely translated means "Yes, my fingers taste like chocolate bunnies") because Corey was so swept away by the music and the sentiment that he unconsciously began nibbling on the pinky of the elderly woman next to him. As we were exiting, I was so humiliated that I walked ten paces behind Corey, trying to remain inconspicuous, which was hard because of what he'd done.

And because I was naked. I had taken off all my clothes. I was just naked. In the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

I found some things for myself at Amoeba, too. To watch, I snagged a used copy of Leonard Bernstein’s The Unanswered Question, a DVD release of the six lectures he gave at Harvard in 1973.


For anyone interested in the fundamentals of music language and theory, this provides a charming course, and Bernstein anticipates those of us who may not themselves compose music or play an instrument, so no one gets left behind.

I just now noticed there’s only a tiny amount of egg nog left in my glass! What the heck? I simply cannot savor a beverage; I’m compelled to drink it fast and gone, and do it without even noticing. You should figure out a way to turn war and famine into a beverage, then you could serve it to me and both would be gone in under ten minutes.

Bernstein’s lecture is a kind of viewing whiplash for me, as preceding it was my introduction to the TV show 24 starring the deliciously first-named Kiefer Sutherland, which I am astonished to find I enjoy. I watched the entire 1st season in one week. So, to all of you who accuse me of only enjoying watching things with depressed Swedes or nuns dancing with demons as a French girl stares at a sofa for two hours, take that!

I mention these things that I watch and/or listen to with the assumption that, if you read my blog regularly, you have a sense for what I like, allowing you to give things I mention a try, or, if you know by now you don’t agree with my taste, you can then avoid whatever’s tickling my fancy.

Ugh… fancy. That word has been ruined for me ever since I learned that my friend Ryan’s family referred to the female genitalia as a “fancy.” I never bothered to ask what they called a boy’s genitals. Perhaps a “spiffy?”

Well, my egg nog is gone and I’m thirsty again. What’s more, I still have a stocking to stuff, so I’m going to excuse myself now. I’ll leave you with this, though, because I care.

out today 3/11...the photographic...

Posted by Brad Schelden, March 12, 2008 09:00pm | Post a Comment

Maybe I am bit selfish or egocentric but I think sometimes that certain releases come out just for me. It makes me feel special. We all have our special little secret bands we like and it is always exciting to hear some new band for the first time, especially when you feel like you may already like every band that you are ever going to like.

I have been really obsessed with the Explosions in the Sky for the last couple of years. It is nice to have an instrumental album to escape into every once in a while, for the times you don't really want to hear anybody talking and just need time alone to think for yourself.  It helps me focus myself and think about my life. I often use electronic music on these types of days, but sometimes that gets a little too intense and I need some more smooth instrumental music. I really am starting to sound like some smooth jazz new age dude right now. What is going on? I guess it is sort of like some dude that is into crazy free jazz but every once in a while just needs some smooth jazz. I guess I really should not compare instrumental rock music to smooth jazz. It really is in its own category. I have really worn out my Explosions in the Sky albums, so I was excited to find the new band The Photographic. Their debut album Pictures of a Changing World comes out today. They come from the land of Louisville, Kentucky. And they really sound nothing like smooth jazz.

I seem to go through phases of liking music from one area of the world. For a while I seemed to be listening to a lot of music coming out of Austin, Texas. At the end of last year I was really obsessed with music coming out of Sweden. I don't intentionally go out and try to find bands from one certain city or country, it just sort of happens-- so it might just happen that I all of sudden start liking a bunch of Louisville bands. I thought I would check to make sure I already don't. I did also find out some interesting facts about the city.

Louisville was founded in 1778 and was named after the great King Louis XVI. I am quickly realizing I know very little about Louisville or Kentucky in general, although I did have a pen pal in elementary school who was from Louisville-- but that was a long time ago. I may try and find those letters to find out what he told me about the great Louisville. Maybe he ended up being in the band The Photographic. I knew that Hunter S. Thompson was from Kentucky, but I had no idea this is also where Tom Cruise came from. I also didn't know that the first ever hand transplant took place in Louisville. I didn't really even know that there had been a first hand transplant. One of the characters on the TV show Prison Break had sewn his own hand back on, but that did not work out so well for him. I guess he should have gone to Kentucky.

Will Oldham was born in Louisville. Slint are also from Louisville. A whole lot of folk and country hasalso come from Kentucky, as you would expect. Loretta Lynn and her sister Crystal Gayle. The Everly Brothers, The Judds, Dwight Yoakam, Billy Ray Cyrus and Ricky Skaggs all come from Kentucky. But there is also another one of my new favorites. My Morning Jacket also comes from the land of Louisville, and although the band has been putting out albums for years, it really took the movie I'm Not There to get me to finally listen to them. Rodan, Freakwater, and Gastr del Sol are also from Louisville, so I have been liking some of the music of Louisville but just not knowing it, which is often the case.  I really do love this new album by The Photographic. I have been listening to it a lot over the last couple of days. You will either like it or you won't. You've really got to be ready for some mellow instrumental post-rocky sort of music. If you are a fan of the Explosions or Mogwai or Mono, then you will like them. Think of it as smooth instrumental post rock. There is another sort of similar band with an album out today. They are called Them Roaring Twenties. They are from Chicago. I don't have the album yet, but I like what I have heard so far. They sort of sound like a band like Hella or The Numbers mixed with a Mogwai/Explosions in the Sky type band. I like it.

I just got back from Disneyland this last weekend. I had not been in a couple weeks but I had to go check it out since Amoeba was just up against Disneyland in a contest sort of competition that Los Angeles Magazine is running. You should go to the website and vote right now --  it is basically a contest to pick the best thing about Los Angeles. It probably will not make much sense unless you have spent a significant part of your life in Los Angeles. The first round is over -- we beat Disneyland but are now up against In N Out. I figured Disneyland would be the hardest to beat even though Disneyland is in Orange County and not Los Angeles. I voted for Amoeba of course, but I do really love myself some Disneyland. Curt was down for a visit and I made him run around the park all day and go on almost every ride. We even went on the Buzz Lightyear Toy Story ride. And we went to the wonderful "Enchanted Tiki Room." I had not been to this animatronic "show" in a long time, but it is just as weird and amazing as I remember. I wish I had a room like this in my house that I could go into whenever I was feeling a little sad. I seriously think a lot of people could deal without yoga and therapy if they just spent some time in the Tiki Room.

I have also been wanting to get one of those silhouette cut outs that you can get on Main Street in Disneyland. Ever since my pal at the Haight St. store got one with her boyfriend I knew that I had to get one. The cut out of Curt came out better than I did, but you can tell it's me because of the glasses. My head really is not that big, but the little old lady that made it was awesome and seriously cut it out in like one minute.



Also out today...






Eleventh Hour by Del the Funky Homosapien










Staying In by Diskjokke













Hello Voyager by Evangelista










Funky Nassau: The Compass Point Story











Obzen by Meshuggah











Ego Trippin by Snoop Dogg











Future Sandwich by Them Roaring Twenties











Alopecia by Why?

California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Granada Hills

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 30, 2007 06:05pm | Post a Comment
Today's Los Angeles neighborhood blog is about Granada Hills. To vote for another Los Angeles neighborhood, vote here. To vote for a Los Angeles County Community, vote here. To vote for Orange County neighborhoods, vote here.

I drove to Granada Hills today to buy a rug for Lush Floral Design head-honcho, Ngoc Nguyen. To get there I used the Ronald Reagan Freeway, named after an actor from Illinois who made some films which are widely regarded as being universally unmemorable. The ex-actor, after retiring from Hollywood, went on to sell weapons to the Iranian dictatorship using the profits to arm death squads in Central America. He also used funds designated for cleaning up toxic waste to fund instead the campaigns of sympathetic politicians and he closed institutions for the mentally ill, which flooded the street with hundreds of thousands of crazy new homeless people that now fill our jails, sidewalks and parks.

     

In 1959 Nikita Khrushchev visited the United States with two requests which revealed the Hollywood movie-lover in the famous shoe-banger:

1. To go to Disneyland
2. Meet John Wayne

The United States had a better idea; show him a modern suburb on Sophia Drive in Granada Hills. Instead of inspecting an aerospace plant, he was taken behind the scenes of 20 Century Fox's Can-Can.

Continue reading...

Whiskers on roses & raindrops on kittens: V. Rondo

Posted by Job O Brother, August 8, 2007 10:22am | Post a Comment

5.) The Haunted Mansion

Last I checked, Amoeba Music is not selling any of these, no matter how much I pester management that there is a ready market for it.

I don’t know what it says about me, but as a child growing up on the sunny island of Oahu, I dreamed incessantly of once again returning to the Haunted Mansion, located on the edge of New Orleans Square in the Magic Kingdom of Disneyland in Anaheim in California on the Mainland…

…Earth.


Something about the temperature, the hues of dark greens, blues and violet, set a-glow by thousands of volts of black light; a soundtrack of pipe organ and church bells… It made a young Job feel at home. I can’t account for it, but that’s how it felt and, infantile as it may seem (maybe even perverse) it still does.

Once inside, I would never want to leave. At age five, I stood at the base of the escalator that took people from the end of the ride to the outside world, and cried. I’m sure people who passed me assumed I was crying because the ride had scared me, when in actuality, I wanted to move in.

I was a deeply unpopular child.


Every once in a while, a copy of the Haunted Mansion soundtrack will pop up in my section of Amoeba. It was only sold at the Park, and even then in limited edition batches (though they re-release them). Most anything Disney on c.d. goes out of print and instantly becomes a collector’s item; there’s always a market for the stuff. There’s people out there right now, who have left their babies alone in cribs, as they hunt for anything with that recognizable Disney logo stamped on it.
(Confession time: When a c.d. simply will not sell in my section, I just hand-draw this emblem on it, then stand back and wait for the bidding war between customers who suddenly must own this “rare release by Disney of the ‘Inside Deep Throat’ soundtrack”.)*

It should go without saying that this entry on my list of "guaranteed bliss" has nothing to do with the Eddie Murphy film based on the ride. I have never seen this movie, for the same reason that I never want to see the photos of Marilyn Monroe's corpse: Eddie Murphy stresses me out.


This is what my Santa looks like - a portrait from the gallery of the Mansion

If you're like me... well, first of all, my condolences... and thoughts of the Haunted Mansion elicit more euphoria than phobia, it may interest you to know there's others like us. You can find them here.

It’s been years since I’ve been to Disneyland. In fact, moving to Los Angeles three years ago is about the time I stopped going. This is not by choice! So if any of you readers out there have plans to go, drop me a line and invite me, please. I promise I will not cry inside the Haunted Mansion…

…much.

6.) Sonic Youth


They're a band. They have albums. Y'know.

*This is not true, I have never done this; don't go scribbling the Disney emblem on some record you scratched and try to return it to Amoeba for a refund.
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