Amoeblog

(In which Job honors his Mother.)

Posted by Job O Brother, May 10, 2010 12:27pm | Post a Comment
 


An actual picture of my Mother (not pictured here).

In honor of this week’s Mother’s Day, I’m dedicating this entry to my Mammy.

 

I remember Mom liked the house kept quiet so she could concentrate on reading her scripts. It also allowed her to track the progress of the housekeepers; she could hear if they were spending their time talking, how much time they spent scouring the living room tile, etc. It was kind of intense, but not as bad as when she stopped getting decent movie roles and her alcoholism worsened. That’s when she started beating me with coat hangers and…

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(Before which the author's mother visits.)

Posted by Job O Brother, July 6, 2009 02:58pm | Post a Comment

That's my Ma, milking the cow. (The cow is the one with horns.)

This past week my dear, sweet Ma came for a visit. Her time here flew by quickly; we entertained ourselves with long walks, stories from her youth, and cooking-related reality TV. I also introduced her to one of my best friends in the whole world: absinthe.

She has a new iPhone, but her fear of technology had limited her use of it to – get this – making phone calls! I mean, what’s the point of a phone if all you do with it is call people? That’s so 1990’s! So I introduced her to all the things her new phone could do: map out directions, take photos, slay red dragons, make chocolate sprinkles, cure melanoma and make other kinds of chocolate sprinkles. She was quick to learn and I expect she will soon be filling my email inbox with pictures of my nephews, her tomato plants, and chocolate sprinkles.

In honor of her visit, I have assembled the following short list of things she loves, in hopes that you, too, may find some joy in them. If you’re not interested, don’t worry – she’s very easy-going and non-judgmental, and won’t take offense. I, however, will hunt you down like a dog and slay you. With my iPhone.

Glenn Gould


Chopsticks!

One of the most famous classical pianists of all time, and still controversial, Glenn Gould was the very definition of an eccentric genius. Most famous for his interpretations of J.S. Bach’s music for keyboard, Gould also championed modern composers, such as Alban Berg and Arnold Schönberg, while frequently disparaging more popular composers such as Frédéric Chopin and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, finding their works often insincere and unsatisfying (a sentiment, incidentally, I share with Gould).


Gould died at age 50, leaving behind a rich and compelling catalogue of recordings and a few pairs of very rank smelling gloves.

In addition to some more traditional documentaries, there’s a film entitled 32 Short Films About Glenn Gould that provides an entertaining (perhaps more than deep) look at this musical prodigy.


He also provides the soundtrack for my Mother’s iPhone ringtone.

His Hand in Mine – Elvis Presley


Ma was raised in the church, where she played organ, piano and served as choral director. She also arranged flowers and… I dunno – probably designed the stained-glass windows, too. The church was in Florin, California, which had been mostly populated by Japanese farmers until, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the U.S. government forced the Japanese into concentration camps – an event that seems remarkably absent from our consideration of American history.


Florin, California (circa what I'm talkin' about)

Anyway, at this time in Florin, there was really nothing to do but milk cows, watch the strawberries grow, and participate in church functions, which is what so occupied Ma’s time. Playing music served as one of Ma’s few truly fun activities, and her association with old hymns remains a positive one, although her belief in the traditional tenants of Protestantism has been replaced by something more akin to Shirley MacLaine’s persuasions.

If you want to see Ma’s eyes glaze over in bliss (and you know you do) I suggest spinning this album from Elvis Presley.


Carlos Montoya

Another controversial, artistic genius Ma gravitates towards is the flamenco guitarist Carlos Montoya.


"Mine! All mine! Ahahahahahaha...!!!"

Montoya is renowned as much for his agility at playing guitar as he was for his ability to fly. He could fly in the air of his own volition and remains the first and only human in history to do so. It was on Montoya that Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster based their superhero creation, Superman. This resulted in Montoya suing the comic writers in a case that was ultimately settled out of court, with Montoya being paid off in raisins, his favorite between-meal snack.

The following song was composed by Montoya for his wife, Lois, who would eventually divorce him, complaining that his willingness to work for dried fruit made life with the musician “crazy-making” and “mostly fucked.”


My Ma may have returned to the glorious state of Northern California, but she remains an eternal houseguest in my heart …where she is currently building a pulpit and brand-new steeple.

(In which Job engages in back-breaking work.)

Posted by Job O Brother, June 1, 2009 01:55pm | Post a Comment

Does the glowing spine make me look fat?

The crippling pain hasn’t exactly ruined my week. My new toy has, after all, given new life to my hobby: collecting all music in the world… except for maybe Van Halen. Let me back up a bit…

Ha! “Back up.” You see, five days ago my back gave out while I was in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, battling La Alianza Triángulo de Oro – more specifically, I was in the middle of a back-alley shoot-out with that rascal, V.C. Fuentes (or, as I like to call him El Caca Bigote, which just drives him nuts!).

As we all know, you never want to fire your M4 carbine with your weaker arm, but it was past lunch time, I hadn’t eaten, and an orphaned child I had just rescued from the local orfanato offered me a fresh sopaipilla which I wasn’t about to let go stale; so I was mackin' on that with my right arm, shooting with my left and, just as I was about to send Fuentes to see his own fatal plastic surgeon, I felt a spring go loose in my back.

“Uh-oh,” I thought, and I was right.

So, for the last half-week I’ve been popping Advil like they were Skittles and walking like I was 99. My boyfriend, sensitive care-giver that he is, has taken it upon himself to make endless jokes about my situation, just to make sure I keep laughing. At least, I think that’s why he does it.


Does this statue of Æthelswith make me look fat?

My new toy is an external hard-drive with something like 99 hergozapazillogabytes of memory (give or take 2 hurquatzobytes). This will, hopefully, be enough to contain what can only be described as an obscene CD collection. In addition to this, I have recently purchased a portable turn-table (from, eh-hem, Amoeba Music) with a USB component which will allow me to transfer all my vinyl into a digital format, just as soon as I get written permission from any and all applicable copyright owners of the music. (Eh-hem again.)

As most of you know, in addition to lording over the Soundtrack Section of Amoeba Music Hollywood, I work as a freelance writer (hence the blog you are now reading which is enabling you to  procrastinate – but don’t worry, your secret is safe with me). The hope is that someday, someone with money and power recognizes how really, really, really, really, really, good I’m at writing stuff and, you know, things, and stuff and they hire me for some rad TV show or film or simply to sit next to their pool and come up with entertaining stories for their personal lifeguard – whatever. I imagine that, even then, with new-found wealth at my fingertips and enjoying a jet-set lifestyle, I will probably still have to maintain some working hours at Amoeba Music simply because I cannot survive without constant access to its inventory. I am hooked. I have an employee-discounted musical monkey on my back. Where’s my support group?

In transferring my CD collection onto my new hard-drive, I am sometimes struck by certain selections I felt compelled to bring home in the past, and I thought I'd share some of the odder albums with you.
Evita – The Japanese Cast Recording

If you thought Madonna was a far-fetched casting as Argentina’s notorious First Lady, consider 野村玲子. I did. And you know what? Madonna is still more far-fetched.



[untitled demo] – Agnès Mrugalski

I wish I could share this with you, because it’s f-wording brilliant. I plucked this vaguely packaged disc from the library music section of Amoeba. It contains 32 tracks of sample advertisements which serve to showcase actress Agnès Mrugalski’s diverse capabilities for radio commercial work. Boasting such titles as “Fabergé (voix sensuelle, complice)” or “United Airlines (voix hôtesse, fraîche, accueeillante),” each selection is a faux commercial with a description of the “type” of voice she’s using.


Internet research on said actress yielding next to nothing. I did find this one, heavily pixilated photograph. Mme. Mrugalski, if you’re out there, please supply us with more information. Nous t'adorons!

God is a Moog – Gershon Kingsley


This is a 2006 release from Moog pioneer Gershon Kingsley, best known as half the team Perrey & Kingsley, whose 1966 release The In Sound From Way Out, is considered one of the first mainstream electronic albums.

God is a Moog is a compilation of Kingsley’s Jewish music; much of it is sacred. There’s something both spooky and hilarious about the incongruous mix of Hebrew prayer intoned over (antiquated) space age sounds.

I couldn’t find a sample on YouTube, but here’s Kinglsey’s most famous composition, “Popcorn”…


He’s Able – People’s Temple Choir

This is a grisly affair, released in 1973 by Brotherhood Records, which was created by the Peoples Temple, under the directorship of Rev. Jim Jones. Taken out of context, it is a typical, home-grown, 1970’s gospel album. It sounds like most any church’s effort. When considered within the broader scope of the Peoples Temple’s fate, however, it becomes a wince-worthy, chilling listen. The first track features a chorus of children singing:

Welcome, welcome all of you!
Glad you are with us!
Shake hands! No need to be blue!
Welcome all of you!


And so on. Not recommended for cocktail parties. Or bar mitzvahs. Or anything ever.


Into Outer Space with Lucia Pamela – Lucia Pamela

This is a gem – one of those sweet moments when, in ignorant curiosity, I took something home simply because I couldn’t guess what it would be. It turned out to be nothing but sweetness.


Although a rough recording, what you get here is an eccentric blend of swing and early rock ‘n’ roll, led by Lucia Pamela – Miss St. Louis 1926, featured in Ripley's Believe It or Not for memorizing a record 10,000 songs – as she sings songs detailing her trip to the Moon and the adventures she has there.

Fans of Tiny Tim absolutely must check this out, as it features a similar sense of whimsy.


Now then, the Advil is wearing off, and there’s still thousands more albums to transfer, so I’m gonna say goodbye for now. Well, I’m gonna to type it. Well, I already did.

(In which we witness love and marriage and indegestion.)

Posted by Job O Brother, May 4, 2009 01:29pm | Post a Comment

Howdy!

The boyfriend and I just returned from a weekend in the great country of Texas – Houston, to be exact. We went there to celebrate the marriage of some neat humans.

The boyfriend was Best Man at the wedding, so I spent a lot of time in the chapel entertaining myself as he practiced marching down the aisle, handing over rings, smuggling in tequila shots and body-blocking any attempts the bride might have of going “runaway” – you know, typical Best Man duties.

Having been raised in a church, I know how to find all the best hiding spots, and I felt immediately at home. Curled in a cool, dark alcove between the pipe organ and a wood-carved dove of peace, I listened to music on my iPhone and surfed the World Wide Web – reading The Guardian, watching this and this, and wondering why Facebook suggested I be friends with Bill Murray (who I still haven’t forgiven for dog-earing my copy of Dubliners).

Rice Memorial Chapel, the house of God in question, is tucked centrally on the campus grounds of Rice University. It’s a lovely, small chapel, decorated with gold tile and royal blue carpeting. It is noticeably lacking in denominational iconography – a single, movable, wood cross sat off-stage – which is to be expected, I suppose, from a University that specializes in applied sciences. Stained glass glorifying Dr. Willem Kolff healing the crippled with Jarvik-7’s and panels depicting various stages of the Scopes “Monkey” Trial would not have seemed out of place.


I flipped through one of their hymnals. I love a great many hymns, but none so much as “Blessed Assurance” composed by Phoebe P. Knapp and written by Fanny Crosby.


Take a load off.

Fanny Crosby was one of my childhood heroes (a fact which illuminates just how carefree and fun a youngster I was). Although a celebrity in her lifetime (born 1820 – died 1915), her name is now relatively unknown outside Protestant churches.

Rendered blind in infancy after a botched eye operation, she nevertheless grew to be a gifted musician – penning over 8,000 hymns under various pseudonyms – and a popular public speaker. She acted as a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., promoting financing of education for the blind. She also trapped a brainwashing health club owner with his own subliminal suggestion gimmick. (Actually that was the Green Hornet – I just wanted to see if you were still paying attention.)


Would you believe the hymnals of Rice Memorial Chapel don’t have a single Fanny Crosby song in them?! I was flabbergasted and, yes, a little hurt. Which is why I’m using the Amoeblog to organize a grass-roots effort to encourage Rice University to include Fanny Crosby songs in their chapel hymnals. Friends! Americans! The time has come to take action! MAYBE WE CAN! MAYBE WE CAN! MAYBE WE CAN!!!



The wedding itself was a sweet affair, and the bride and groom proved their love, not only of each other, but also of us, by keeping the ceremony brief.

The reception afterwards was rad! They held it at the nearby Houston Museum of Natural Science, in the spooky and captivating Cullen Hall of Gems and Minerals, where corridors of black showcased dazzling geological wonders. This proved to be not only an enchanting setting for a romantic celebration, but convenient, too, as a speakeasy. Only beer and wine was being served, you see, so the boyfriend and I, plus a handful of groomsmen and their wives, had to sneak in tiny bottles of booze.

“Is that a bottle of Chivas Regal in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?”


The Garnet & Diamond Necklace, designed by Ernesto Moreira,
to the left of which is a perfect spot to spike beverages with scotch without getting caught.

At one point, we were sitting at the cool kids’ table, eating the kind of high-class fry food you can only find in Texas. (I’m talking deep-fried scallops drizzled in garlic mayonnaise, served on a bed of rock salt, folks. God bless Texas!) The boyfriend handed me a tiny airplane-style bottle of vodka to pass down the table to the lovely Bosnian lady awaiting it. Between her and I was her husband. I stealthily took the bottle and, under the table, placed it on the man’s leg so he could continue the distribution. Instead, he looked suddenly shocked and confused, as though he’d just caught Santa dorking a reindeer. He looked at me, speechless, and I realized he had no idea I was pressing a bottle on his thigh – he thought I was copping a feel!

Once we all figured what was going on, we laughed. Well, my boyfriend and the Bosnian wife laughed – her husband and I were pretty awkward for a while, in that way that dudes get when homoeroticism is accidentally stumbled into. What tickled me the most was reconsidering his reaction, knowing what he thought was happening. I mean, if some guy sitting next to me at a dinner party suddenly placed his paw on my thigh I can’t promise I’d be as polite as he was! Later, when I smuggled a bottle of rum into his mouth with my tongue he wasn’t so startled.

The DJ, a woman unknown to both the bride and groom (who described her beforehand as a total crap-shoot) played an odd assortment of jingles, ranging from obvious wedding party pleasers…


…to more quizzical canticles…


The boyfriend had to physically hold me down when the DJ segued from Bobby Darin to the “Time Warp.”


I can’t not dance to the “Time Warp!” Even if no-one else is on the dance-floor. The boyfriend disagrees. Adamantly.

Speaking of booze (as I often am), this party wasn’t the only time on our Texas trip that my cocktails were mixed with subterfuge. We stayed at the luxurious (if somewhat notorious) Hotel Icon, in a penthouse suite that was inexplicably dubbed the Oriental Suite. The one Meiji period coffee-table aside, we couldn’t see any justification for such a moniker. Even the antique books which lined our headboard were, for whatever reason, printed in a variety of Scandinavian languages. I did my best to entertain the boyfriend by reading him Swedish musings on Eskimo culture.

Me: Eskimåerna älskar valspäck. De skaver på sina bröst och sjunga prisar.

Him: That’s what she said.


My latest love – and this will tie in, bear with me – is B&B Dom Liqueur. It’s composed of equal parts cognac to Bénédictine liqueur. Served straight-up in a brandy snifter, the scent will peel the outermost layer of your eyeballs off before coating your tongue in warm, honeyed, herbal deliciousness. After a day of eating at Texas’ own gastronomically defying Whataburger, a digestif like B&B becomes an angel of mercy.


I ordered a glass of it from the hotel bar after a long day of whatever the f*** I did that day, and took it up to our room, where the boyfriend and I snuggled into bed and watched a bit of (now-released) season one of Designing Women, because we are gay.


I was asleep before Delta Burke tearfully said goodbye to her Vietnamese foster child, Li Sing, with half my snifter still full of precious B&B.

The next morning, fearing the room service staff would abscond with my darling potation, I had the boyfriend hide it in the safe where it stayed, keeping company with a gold watch, until the following evening.


And now we’ve returned to our home. Yes, dear readers, the boyfriend and I are now living together on 8th and Curson, tucked behind what was until recently the Variety Building – an ugly piece of architecture that looks like a late 1980’s tribute to Mayan temples. Blech. Luckily, our own home is entirely lovable. Do stop by!

…But not without invitation. And never when we’re here.

Strange Things Happening Every Day: Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Posted by Miss Ess, October 12, 2007 06:21pm | Post a Comment

I feel like everybody should know about Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Isn't it sad how unexpected it seems to see a woman playing a guitar in old black and white footage? It seems almost bizarre. Sister Rosetta Tharpe doesn't just play the guitar, she brings so much energy and passion to it-- it's joyful, or at least, it always perks me up to see her play and sing. She has a huge sense of spirit.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe was definitely a pioneer in the world of gospel and rock n roll too. I don't really think there's anyone else like her. She was popular in the 30s and 40s. She wasn't afraid to blend the sacred with the secular, which was kind of revolutionary at the time. Apparently she was quite shocking in her day, which makes sense because watching her even today she was so far ahead of the game and so fearless, it's shocking and also affirming to know she existed.

Watching a woman perform in gospel robes clutching and coaxing an electric guitar, the newly invented  symbol of sin to so many at the time, it's refreshing! It's exciting! It's inspiring! She's a consummate performer and entertainer; she's killer. Check out a performance:


Now that's a solo!

This is one of my favorite videos to watch of all time:





The fact that we have these videos seems like some kind of miracle to me. It seems like a lost relic from a time that feels so long ago, it's practically forgotten. I think it's important to revisit Sister Rosetta! I never get tired of hearing her voice and solos. 

She lives in the Gospel section here at Amoeba.
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