Popmatic Podcast November 2009
Crystal tells about the novels of Chelsea Cain, the world’s sexiest serial killer. Jeremy gets his geek on with an appreciation of the Battlestar Galactica prequel, Caprica. We close the show with a roundtable discussion of our favorite film music.
Find in the Library
Reserve titles mentioned in this episode.
Astral Weeks Live at the Hollywood Bowl
By Van Morrison, 2009
Ever since I can remember reading “rock journalism” three albums (as they were called) reigned on most respected journalists’ all time best type polls: Derek and the Dominoes’ Layla and other Assorted Love Songs, The Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main Street and Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks. I have come to completely agree with their collective wisdom in deeming these all time classics (I never understood their strange fascination with Captain Beefheart’s Trout Mask Replica though; I disagree on that one.) In any case, it is over forty years since the seminal, jazzy, reflective, literate, brooding, celebratory song cycle masterpiece known as Astral Weeks was released by Van Morrison. Can he still do these songs justice in a live format? The short answer is a resounding “Yes!”
Van’s rich Belfast voice inhabits these songs with passion as he stretches them out, drops in some scatting and new inflections and generally brings them alive for the lucky audience at the Hollywood Bowl. The recording is excellent with no crowd histrionics (I could have done without the voice from the stage calling out his name between the encore break but it’s a minor quibble.) and a rich balance of acoustic guitar, brushes, string bass that compliments Van’s inimitable voice. Hearing songs like Cyprus Avenue, Ballerina and Madame George played with such soulful, focused intensity and joy is wonderful to behold.
I’ve listened to this recording numerous times in a variety of settings and conditions and it always gives me satisfaction, which can’t be said for a lot of live recordings. Like the original recording – I just don’t get tired of it. Very well done indeed.
By Lorrie Moore
Moore explores thirtysomething angst while cleverly playing with language and conventions of plot, narrative, and character. This book will make you both laugh out loud and think deeply about the various paths a life can take.
Homer and Langley
By E.L. Doctorow
So shoot me, I’ve never read E.L. Doctorow before now. Guess I was in my feminist science fiction phase when Ragtime came out. No matter. Homer and Langley is a lovely novel. Considering the fact that the main characters are reclusive, hoarding brothers who live in shocking squalor, achieving lovely is no mean feat for the author. The novel is based on the true story of Homer and Langley Collyer, who repelled and fascinated New Yorkers until their deaths in 1947. This is the story of how the brothers, children of privilege, came to be thus. Told from Homer’s viewpoint, the story of Langley’s increasing eccentricity and Homer’s dependent complicity is told with kindness, humor, heartbreak, and love. Doctorow’s departure from actual history (he extends their lifespans by a good 30 years, and invents characters who float in and out of their lives) serves the story so well that you don’t mind at all once you’ve squared your confusion. And the author’s ability to humanize what must have been quite a freak show forces you to look a little differently at what you see on the nightly news.
By White Rabbits, 2009
Lots of bands with animal names lately, huh? Here’s one to remember: The White Rabbits. Their sophomore album is called It’s Frightening. I say it’s amazing! The first track comes out of the gate like a thoroughbred at the Kentucky Derby, and the next 9 songs keep the racehorse pace. It was produced by Spoon frontman Britt Daniel, who helped the Rabbits add a musical gloss to their sound. Radiohead fans should definitely check this one out.
by Chris Cleave
“And then the men came…” This is the recurrent opening to the story told by every traumatized refugee that Little Bee talks to while waiting in an immigration detention facility outside of London. The charming narrator of this original novel is sixteen-year-old Little Bee, who barely escaped from her Nigerian village with her life, after losing her family and home in a vicious attack. When released from detention after two years, she finds the one person in London she knows of — Sarah, a new widow who once met Little Bee during an ill-fated Nigerian vacation with her husband, two years earlier. The relationship forged by these two women (and one delightful little boy), the way they change each other, and their precariously intertwined fates, form a touching and compelling personal story set against a backdrop of an ocean of refugees moving around the globe in search of safe homes. Check this one out.
The brothers, played by Ewan McGregor and Colin Ferrell, were my favorite part of this movie. It’s not Woody Allen’s greatest film, but if you enjoy old-fashioned thrillers in the style of Hitchcock, this one is worth your time.