Month: June 2009

Book report: Single & Single

Book report: Single & Single

Books
Don't let the title fool you - Single & Single is in fact not the new name for Jon & Kate Plus 8.  It's actually a 1999 novel by John le Carré, who made a name for himself in 1963 with The Spy Who Came in From the Cold.  I picked it up a few years ago solely because le Carré is the author, which should tell you how much I liked The Spy Who Came in From the Cold. I don't know if I was aware that Single & Single isn't a spy novel when I bought it, but it doesn't really matter because it might as well be. All the familiar elements are here, but in the post-Cold War world we have to make do with cutthroat Russian mobsters rather than crafty KGB agents, and put-upon British bureaucrats who lack the zip of the agents of yesteryear.  Fighting crime just isn't as interesting as figh
Album cover of the week: Our Delights

Album cover of the week: Our Delights

Album Cover of the Week, Music
Jazz piano giants Hank Jones and Tommy Flanagan, who both sprang out of a very fertile post-war Detroit jazz scene, entered Fantasy Studios (the in-house studio of Fantasy Records) in Berkeley, California to record an album of piano duets in January 1978.  The result of that session was the Galaxy Records release Our Delights (GXY-5113).  The album art indeed reflects the very sweet music contained within: It took a few glances at the photo before I figured out that those aren't chocolate hearts, but chocolate pianos.  A nice little juxtaposition for sure.  Unfortunately I don't know who's responsible for this rather clever photograph, but if anyone has that info please let me know. The same recording session also yielded a second duet album, More Delights, which featured a simil
Michael

Michael

Music
No matter what objectionable things I think he did, no matter what objectionable things I know he did, at this moment I can only look back on Michael Jackson's half century on this planet and think of the great things he did.  I've gone through various stages of love and hate regarding Michael over the years.  But one thing I didn't consider until today was that I've never really known of a musical universe without Michael in it in some fashion. I had just turned seven when Thriller came out, and I played that album a million times.  Not long after that, maybe around 1984 or 1985, I suddenly decided that anything besides hard rock or heavy metal was garbage.  I trashed my copy of Thriller and never even gave any of his subsequent albums a shot (I had an image to uphold, you know).  But
Album covers of the week: 1962-1966 & 1967-1970

Album covers of the week: 1962-1966 & 1967-1970

Album Cover of the Week
Since it's been so long since the last entry, I'll give you a two-fer.  This marks (I believe) the first entry in the ACotW series featuring a compilation, as well as the first entry from the Fab Four.  These two albums were released in April 1973, less than three full years after the Beatles officially disbanded in 1970.  In contrast to the iconic covers of albums like Rubber Soul or Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, the images for this career-spanning set are simpler yet more powerful in my opinion. Up first is 1962-1966, also known as the Red Album.  This shot of the Beatles looking down from a stairwell at the EMI building in London was taken by Angus McBeam, and is actually from the same photo session that gave us the cover of the group's debut, Please Please Me. (more&hel
Retrotisements: Father’s Day edition

Retrotisements: Father’s Day edition

Advertising, Retrotisements
When it comes to gift-giving -- and that is the point of holidays, right? -- Father's Day has to rank somewhere between Groundhog's Day and Flag Day in terms of pure lameness.  I would go so far as to say it's the lamest holiday, at least when you weigh the importance of the day's reason with the level of creativity employed by its celebrants.  I'm not pushing for dads to get bouquets of roses or anything, but why do Father's Day gifts almost end up being so... utilitarian? Listen, I like wearing nice clothes as much as the next guy but can we save the boring dress shirts for another day please?  Daddy was really hoping for the latest season of Ninja Warrior on DVD, but I guess this will do.  (Van Heusen, 1943) This year. why not show dad how much he means to you by givin