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Showing posts from June, 2016

What I'm Listening To: Bernardino Femminielli's Plaisirs Americains

Artist: Bernardino Femminielli

Album:Plaisirs Americains

What: Tastefully ironic Euro-funk/disco. Take a bit of Giorgio Moroder, cross it with Pink Floyd,  throw in a healthy dose of disco beats and some classic 80s electro-cheese a la A Flock of Seagulls, and you've just about got it.

I've been playing the album all week and still can't stop. The emphasis is primarily on the beat, and keeping the beat going; the album really moves. But there's also enough depth and noir to make this a truly complex piece of music that's fun and direct, yet sophisticated and Euro-feeling; Femminielli is from Montreal and he speaks or rather whispers in French throughout the entire album. It's pretty sweet.

Listen to it and/or buy it here: http://femminielli.bandcamp.com/

New Yorker Fiction Review #139: "A Resolute Man" by Anne Proulx

Issue: March 21, 2016

Story: "A Resolute Man" by Annie Proulx

Rating: $

Review: I can't recall ever having read anything by Annie Proulx and I can't say that I'm possessed of a particularly strong desire to do so after reading this story. Although it did pick up at the end, the dialogue was a little wooden and it took far too long to get to the good stuff, which I find is generally the problem with fiction (or at least my problem with most fiction) even the short stuff, which is about all I can deal with these days.

Maybe the problem is that it's part of her upcoming novel Barkskinsand not a "story" in and of itself. Or maybe it is a story in and of itself, and it still is kind of boring for the first half. Anyway, only when the main character, James Duke, finally marries a sex-crazed local woman with a crass, backwoodsman father does the story really take off. And then, it actually is pretty interesting, as we watch the civilized former Navy Captain D…

Water Reviews: Ethos Water (700ml)

Water: Ethos Water (700ml plastic bottle)

Type: Bottled drinking water

Rating:  Two Drops (out of five)

Review: In the realm of drinking waters, Ethos Water is about as mundane as it gets. This is the Bic ball-point pen of waters. The Diet Coke of waters. The mashed potatoes of waters. Tasteless (which, I suppose, "bottled water" is supposed to be (maybe?)) and barely remarkable in any sense other than the company's pledge that for every bottle of Ethos Water "you" buy, Starbucks will donate 5¢ to (and I quote): "support humanitarian programs in coffee growing communities, providing clean, safe water to those in need."

That's great, and apparently the company has already distributed something like $10 million in this project, but...if you buy this water, you are essentially buying tap water from California for $1.95 per 700 ml bottle. And even if tap water costs more in California than it does in the rest of the country (which...I'm guessing it d…

Water Reviews: Acqua Panna (1L Bottle)

Water:Acqua Panna

Size: 1 liter glass bottle

Rating: four drops (out of five)

Review: I know that "panna" in Italian means "cream." And while this water does not taste like cream per se, it is pretty damned smooth and refreshing. What I like about this water is it's suave, refined, alkaline mouth-feel that leaves the merest hint of a chalkiness on the teeth.

Chilled at standard refrigerator temperature of 38F (3.3C) it becomes so refreshingly innocuous, you hardly know it was there. Like a pleasant visitor on a summer Saturday afternoon, with whom you share a brief and pleasant conversation, who uplifts and charms you, but whom, when she is gone, fades quickly out of memory in spite of your attempts to recall anything about her...some detail that will bring the experience back to the forefront of your mind.

Thus...the only solution is to open another bottle and re-create the experience. Was Acqua Panna really that good, you may ask? Well...everything Italian is go…

Water Reviews: Chicago Tap Water

Location: Gold Coast, downtown Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.

Water: Tap Water

Rating: One Drop (out of five)

Review: How a city situated on the world's largest reservoir of fresh water can have such crappy tasting tap water is beyond me. This stuff tastes like chemical soup. Like liquid vinyl. Soft and mushy on the mouth. No tang. No crispness. Neither acid nor alkaline. Existing on some other scale that hasn't been identified yet. Tastes as though it was left in a plastic container, in a giant car, with the windows rolled up, in the Chicago sun. I feel like this stuff would kill the grass on Wrigley Field. I can't imagine what it is doing to my insides.

I usually look forward to the simple pleasure of drinking down a nice glass of tap water or two in the AM or before bed, but this stuff, it was like taking my vitamins or something. Vitamins that aren't really good for you. Like pharmaceutical runoff. Left a kind of chemically film in the mouth and an uncomfortable irritation…

New Yorker Fiction Review #138: "For the Best" by Anne Beattie

Issue: March 14, 2016

Story: "For the Best" by Anne Beattie

Rating: Meh

Review: Not only am I severely behind in my New Yorker fiction reviewing, but it's also been about a month since my last entry. Ugh. Life gets in the way. I'll keep this short.

I did not appreciate this story at all. Except for the very end, when the "reveal" comes, it was a struggle to pay attention, and I do not have ADD. I just know what kinds of stories I like. My chief complain here is the same as it was with "Save a Horse Ride a Cowgirl," (from TNY 10/23/15; reviewed onTGCB 2/15/16) and that is, the material is uncompelling and a bit inconsequential. At least, if the story is going to be about old white upper-middle class Manhattanites, let it be an exciting story about old white upper-middle class Manhattanites, eh?

I liked "Major Maybe," from way back in April 20, 2015 (TGCB 5/11/16) but that was about younger people. Not that I'm an age-ist or anything (it …