Sunday Song: Ice Dance

Winter barely touched Seattle (so far), but when it did, it froze water mid-motion. I found the result rather spectacular. Water seemed frozen mid-pose. So starting with an Ice Dance seems appropriate.

Here’s nature’s interpretation.

Ice on holly with sun.

Ice on holly with sun.

I love that. I love the sunlight through leaf and ice, the hint of red and the verdant green, the veins of the leaf and the glowing outline of it. This is why I love photography: I can let nature do the art, and all I do is document.

Budding Ice

Budding Ice

The other thing I love about photography is what I see that I couldn’t see before, like the tiny patterns of air within ice.


Air fern in ice.

Air fern in ice.

What was too subtle to notice in the field becomes exquisitely visible in the image on the screen. And I love that.

Speaking of photos, you’ll want to watch the video for this one. Some very lovely photography, and truly delicious geology for your viewing pleasure. The song itself is subtle and wonderful and lives up to its name.

There’s something utterly fascinating about seeing water stopped in the act of slipping from a drip tip. And it wasn’t just one or two that had happened to have water on them when the cold hit – it was pretty much every leaf, especially on the rhodies along the street.

Drip tip ice.

Drip tip ice.

They were frosted, too, which led to their looking like winter confections. This one looks like a carousel to me, and I almost expect it to begin a stately turn.

Winter carousel.

Winter carousel.

And each tip seemed to have its own fascination, like this one, which looks as though a firework has frozen within it.

Frozen firework

Frozen firework

This is one of the most beautiful Tarja Turunen songs I know, and it seems appropriate here. Watch: once you get past some of the rather gothy things at the beginning, spectacular nature shots take over for the win.

Here’s a drip tip with quite a few designs within – what do you see?

Drip tip dreams.

Drip tip dreams.

And a wider view of the same leaves, showing the frost dusting the leaves.

Frost ice rhodie.

Frost ice rhodie.

Even in the grip of ice, the rhodies were set for spring. You can see they’ve been preparing, setting themselves to bloom as soon as the season turns.

Flower bud frost

Flower bud frost

In a few weeks, spring will begin, and then summer will come, and I’ll wonder what I ever saw in winter. But for right now, I’m wishing for more snow and ice. The world is a different place in winter. Magnificent.

Saturday Song: Butterfly Lovers

Okay, so this is the most magnificent thing I’ve ever seen human beings do. Well, do while dancing, anyway. I mean, she’s standing en pointe on this dude’s head, and – just watch.

Words. I haven’t any. I just. That’s simply. Mwah.

You know what, that’s art. That’s pure bloody art right there, and it’s one of the reasons why I don’t give up on humanity in despair (you, my darlings, and my fellow Freethought Bloggers, plus the other folks out there doing magnificent work making this world better and more beautiful every day, are the other reasons). All right? It’s moments like these that just make me sit back with my jaw flapping gently in the fully unhinged position and my eyes popping out and my poor little tempted-to-be-misanthropic heart welling, and I burst out with a robust, “I bloody love people!” when I’m capable of drawing breath again.

I rather imagine this is what it’s like running about the universe with the Doctor, actually.

So it feels rather a bit silly to plop my own pathetic art down atop that masterpiece, but the whole reason I was seeking butterfly songs to begin with was so that I could chuck these photos and a song at you and call it good. Work had me typing frantically all day. My wrists are distinctly upset. But it doesn’t matter anymore, because beauty.

Beautiful people, and beautiful creatures.

Black and white and beautiful all over.

Black and white and beautiful all over.

This was from our trip to the Olympics a couple of years ago, when we went up the Elwha River for a last look at its dams. The reservoir where these butterflies lived isn’t even there anymore. Dam’s gone, water all drained. Hopefully the butterflies still flutter round on the banks of the river, though. They were wonderful, so many of them, fluttering about like so many large and animated snowflakes. Very hard to get good shots, they were so active. However, one can play with the blurred photos and see if art can be created, and perhaps, to a small degree, succeed.

Butterfly between.

Butterfly between.

I like them, anyway, and hopefully you’ll be so dazzled by the dancers you’ll think my blurry butterflies are wonderful, too, and we’ll all be happy enough, then.

But I know you lot. You’ll stop admiring the dubious artistic merit of the photos and start doing things like trying to figure out the species of flora and fauna. So we have a sort of Mystery Flora-Cryptopod Double Feature going on here. Suppose that means I’d best provide you with a proper photo for identification purposes.

Mystery Flora plus Cryptopod

Mystery Flora plus Cryptopod

There you are, then. Lovely, aren’t they?

Here’s a good close one of the butterfly – not the above butterfly, but one of its compatriots, one which liked hanging upside down for some unknown reason.

All's right with the world when you're not upright, it seems.

All’s right with the world when you’re not upright, it seems.

Now, these photos were taken back in the days before we started doing Mystery Flora and all those, so I don’t have five trillion photos of the flower to choose from. So we shall make do with one very like it (and likely closely related, if not the same species), which I snapped up on the drumlin last September.

Mystery Flora I

Mystery Flora I

And a bit closer:

Mystery Flora II

Mystery Flora II

There you are, my loves. Art, nature, music and mystery all in one. Lovely!

Sunday Song: Feeling Emu

You lot take me to some weird places.

So I post a picture of a green beach rock, and next thing I know, Heliconia’s comparing it to an emu egg and RQ’s asking if emu eggs are green. So I got curious. And I looked. And day-yamn. They surely are.

Emu egg purchased at the farmers' market in Mountain View, California. Image and caption courtesy Shuhari via Wikimedia Commons.

Emu egg purchased at the farmers’ market in Mountain View, California. Image and caption courtesy Shuhari via Wikimedia Commons.

Remarkable. The resemblance, as Heliconia said, is striking. Now I want an emu egg. Lots of emu ranches in Washington state, so perhaps, one day…

Of course, I resolved to post a picture of an emu egg for you, and then I couldn’t think of what I wanted for the Sunday Song, until I remembered emu eggs and wondered, are there emu songs? Lo and behold.

This first one’s quite funny. Lyrics are here if you find the Aussie accent difficult.

Aussie’s Old Man Emu

And then I found this bizarre and quite hilarious impromptu emu song:

Emu Attack

And there were, of course, emus in the Dreamtime.

Emu Dreaming

And, just in case things didn’t get weird enough for you already…

Ganga Giri – Thigarra Yugal (Emu Song) (Raising it Up)

I have no idea what that was about. Ganga describes himself as “a rhythmic didjeridu virtuoso.” I shan’t argue. And I’ll admit it’s strangely compelling. Much like the deep green of an emu’s egg. Sort of.

Tuesday Tunes: New Year’s Day

Oh, hai, 2013! Glad u maed it!

Gotz party favorz

Ai tink we shuld taek this srsly. We shuld haev srs tradishunal song. Culdn’t find wun in lolcat, soree. But it’s pritee.

We culd drink to dat! Who haz teh bubblee?

invisible champagne

Furst rool grate drinkin': start wid champagne an build.

tequila catDunno. Don’t tink moderashun iz here. We’ll have anodder drink while we wait. U culd haev wiskee, if u no like teekeela. Wiskee an a tradishunul sawng. Wi’ bagpipes!

We culd have anodder tradishun, too. Dis iz mai tradishun. Alwayz play dis sawng at Noo Yeerz.

An den I gives u mai favurite Noo Yeerz wish:

“May the best you’ve ever been be the worst you’ll ever see.”

Wuv u, mai darlings! Happee Noo Yeer!

Lol love

An latur tooday, we kin say:

rum gone kitteh

Dat’s how we know it wuz gud partee.

Sunday Song: The Bagpipes o’ War

I’m sorry. Yes, I know, there’s a great and noble history, and art, and skill, and all that, but when I hear this line:

“Bagpipers play the tunes of war”

I still burst out laughing. Every time. Something in me can’t accept bagpipes as instruments you’d go to war with.

I suppose they do look martial, for a given value of martial.

A pipe major of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (date unknown). Image and caption courtesy Wikipedia.

A pipe major of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (date unknown). Image and caption courtesy Wikipedia.

Also, it’s not many strange-looking traditional instruments suitable for taking on the march that you can rip pipes out of with both hands and beat people with, so there’s that.

Anyway. Here’s the song that brings on the giggles. It’s not a video that takes itself over-seriously, which is one of many reasons I love it.

I love it when metal bands get metal fans to star in videos. Hilarity ensues. A good time is had all round. In fact, such a good time that I didn’t at first notice how damned talented Van Canto are. The kind of music they’re doing here – it’s not easy stuff. So for technical genius and all round good times, I tip my glass their way.

Due to the fact that I cannot stop laughing at the idea of bagpipes playing tunes of war, I buggered off to YouTube to find some of those tunes of war. Some of them are really damned good. I can now see why military bagpipers are a thing. There’s something that sends chills down the spine a bit. I think I’d lose just a bit of my nerve if I heard that coming at me just before a battle.

Here’s “Black Donald’s March to Harlaw.” I couldn’t find one with actual clans actually marching, so I substituted a video with some delicious Scottish geology instead.

That’s yummy. Also, there is “The Green Hills of Tyrol – The Battle is O’er.” Well, I certainly hope it is, because I want to go get my hammer on that seaside strata. It is hawt.

Okay. I’m ready to march to Scotland now. ZOMG.

Also, Hansi Kürsch in a kilt. Every argument from now on forever is invalid.

Thank you, Scotland, for inspiring such things.

Christmas Eve Sarajevo, Two Versions

So this is a beautiful song, one of my favorite pieces. It’s up to you which version you choose. There’s the Trans-Siberian Orchestra version, which is a little more fantasy and wonder and has kittens and a very sweet little girl.

And then there’s the Savatage version, used on their Dead Winter Dead album, and it has war and a love story.

That’s the album that started me toward becoming a peacekeeper. I won’t say pacifist – I think there are times, unfortunately, when a species of war is necessary. But it’s very different from the kind of war we’ve been fighting. It’s the kind of war that helps stop ethnic cleansing and unthinkable violence and allows people to put shattered lives back together, as best as they can, and go on.

I think of this story every Christmas Eve: that there was a war, and a cellist, and a Christmas Eve when the cello stopped, and two people walked away from a war.

And there was a cellist of Sarajevo. He played in the ruins as the war raged round him. He inspired the story of Dead Winter Dead. But his was a happier ending, and hasn’t ended yet.

Vedran Smajlović, in Sarajevo, 1992. Image and caption courtesy Wikipedia.

Vedran Smajlović, in Sarajevo, 1992. Image and caption courtesy Wikipedia.

I think of those who try, in the midst of ruins, to make this world a little better, a little more beautiful, when to those in the midst of those ruins it must seem there’s nothing good or beautiful left in it, and I’m grateful for them, this Christmas Eve.

Little kids and kittens are nice, too. And fantasy, and wonder, and beauty in the dark night, as the music plays, and stories unfold.

Sunday Song: Autumn’s Last Gasp

Really. This is getting seriously ridiculous. Autumn refuses to leave. But I think it’s on its last legs now, so this may honestly and actually be the last of it.

These lovelies are from my breaking-in-shoes walk a couple of Saturdays ago. For the most part, we’re down to a few bedecked branches, and some solitary leaves that have fallen artistically into the evergreenery.

Last gasps o' autumn I

Last gasps o’ autumn I

Y’all see why I love that leaf, right? It wasn’t even sunny, and this thing was glowing. Gorgeous.

Here’s another:

Last gasps o' autumn II

Last gasps o’ autumn II

They don’t seem to understand it’s autumn’s end.

Then there’s this little plant, and I have no idea what it is, but I think it’s delicious.

Last gasps o' autumn III

Last gasps o’ autumn III

And really, the lichen-covered rock as a backdrop – smashing. I think that photo deserves my last greatest autumn song. I love this song as much as I love that plant: this is Mostly Autumn’s “Carpe Diem.”

Gorgeous stuff.

Now, I’m hoping that if we remind these autumn leaves it’s almost Christmas, they’ll concede that yes, it’s officially winter, mid-winter will be here in a tick, probably time to give way to the snow and the cold and the gray, except where evergreen shrubs pop out with their bright red berries.

Last gasps o' autumn IV

Last gasps o’ autumn IV

No, scarlet leaves. You are not red berries. Don’t be silly.

Last gasps o' autumn V

Last gasps o’ autumn V

Perhaps if we play autumn off with an autumn song that sounds slightly like a Christmas song, maybe that’ll work.

Look, autumn. The houses are all bedecked in midwinter lights. It’s time to accept this. Although I admit – you and lights? Lovely!

Autumn's Last Gasp VI

Autumn’s Last Gasp VI

Maya Apocalypse Day Music Madness: Only The End of the World Again!

Welcome to the Umpteen Thousandth Annual Apolcalypse! Brought to you by the Maya Long Count Calendar – and we all know that things carved in stone must be true. Never mind that people have based their idea that the end times are upon us on a cultural misunderstanding. Somehow, the fact that the Maya expected the world to continue after today never crosses their minds. Never mind that their doom scenarios are completely without foundation.

The small detail of end-of-world disaster scenarios being completely corny will not stop us from throwing end-times parties (because it’s Friday and damn it, we’ll take any excuse handy. Woo!). End-times parties need a soundtrack. I am here to provide. I also stand to lose ~90% of my readership if you all watch some of these videos sober, but I’m willing to take the risk, because they made me laugh.

Also, don’t forget: we have a very special Geopocalypse edition of the Accretionary Wedge up courtesy of Lockwood, and it has awesome content and valid points, so you lot who are stuck at work should absolutely read it while the clock ticks toward party time.

Soundtrack below the fold. Party on, my apocalyptically outstanding readership, party on!

Disaster Area: “Only the End of the World Again.” How else do you start off yet another apocalypse? Why, with a punk song inspired by The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy with none other than Douglas Adams on guitar.

Yoshida Brothers: “The End of the World.” One of the best Japanese bands in existence was actually the inspiration for this series (combined with the Maya, o’ course!)

Great Big Sea: “End of the World.” Every apocalypse comes with the obligatory playing of REM’s classic. In this case, RQ pointed me toward an excellent cover, so we can at least pretend we are avante garde and original here in the cantina.

Hatsune Miku and Megurine Luka: “World’s End Dancehall PV.” Here is where I begin to hemorrhage readers, but it’s very fucked up and Japanese and the name of the song is teh awesome and I couldn’t resist.

Shiina Ringo, Saito Neko, and Shiina Junpei: “Konoyo no kagiri (The End of the World).” The grand finale, my favorite find in the search for end-of-the-world music, and deliciously bizarre. If you watch no other video, watch this one. It will make you fully appreciate the apocalypse in a way no other song could.

Happy Apocalypse, everyone!

Saturday Song: Forever Autumn

It’s winter, but some of the autumn leaves don’t care. They were showing off spectacularly during the last break in the weather. Hence, another post full o’ autumn songs and pictures.

Autumn willows and poplar on the pond at North Creek.

Autumn willows and poplar on the pond at North Creek.

The pond’s full up after our flooding. I think they were draining the hotel parking lot into it. On that lovely sunny Sunday last week, it was still and peaceful and reflecting the trees wonderfully.

Close view of willow and poplar on the pond at North Creek.

Close view of willow and poplar on the pond at North Creek.

Really, the trees round here are being remarkably stubborn about the whole go-dormant-for-the-winter thing. There are a few that dropped their leaves as soon as September hit, some that gave in after the first high wind, but many others won’t let go. They’re quite lovely, especially on the drab rainy days when they’re the only bright color around. And of course, when the sun shines through them on the rare sunny days, they are just glorious.

Like Tchaikovsky, who is my favorite composer. A few of you recommended his Autumn Song. I chose this orchestral version because it has got lovely leaves.

Tchaikovsky’s been with me since my headbanger days. Nothing quite like being decked out in metal clothes of the 90s – ripped jeans, steel-toed boots, studded jacket – and rocking out to Swan Lake. No one in my small town ever adjusted.

I got to hear the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra do the 1812 Overature. I had no choice. I would have liked to doze to the sweet strains of classical – it was on a choir trip, and I’d had about two hours of sleep in two days – but you cannot sleep through the 1812 Overature unless you have a pathological condition. It’s the cannon on stage that ensure wakefulness.

Poplars and the second North Creek pond.

Poplars and the second North Creek pond.

I have no idea what this tree is, but it's pretty. North Creek by the 240th St. SE bridge.

I have no idea what this tree is, but it’s pretty. North Creek by the 240th St. SE bridge.

Classical often does what I’m doing to you now – starting out rather low-key and soft and gentle. Sort of like “Waltz of the Flowers,” which Heliconia found, and which incidentally is documentary proof that fairies cause seasonal variation – if you’re using creationist standards of “documentary” and “proof.” I’m surprised Disney hasn’t sued the shit out of the poor soul who posted it.

Anyway. As I was saying, classical has this tendency to start out very soft and quiet and build to a crescendo, sometimes with cannon. And I’m doing rather the same thing to you, only without the cannon. The first movement is over, and now things go from mezzo piano to mezzo forte.

Brilliant autumn color

Brilliant autumn color

Fortissimo tree.

Mezzo forte.


Fortissimo tree.

Fortissimo tree.

Fortissimo leaves

Fortissimo leaves

This tree popped, people. You know how you sometimes see things you didn’t expect which are so spectacular you stop and gape and stutter incoherently when asked what you stopped for? That was this tree.



It heard it was officially winter, and laughed. Wind and rain shook and soaked it, and it shrugged them off. It waited for the sun, drew in a breath, and belted out an aria of autumn. An Aki-iro no Aria, if you will – Autumn-colored Aria.

Indeed, Warm as the Autumn Light.

Some of you may forgive me after that. I’ll understand if you can’t. It’s hard finding autumn arias, okay?

Now, from fortissimo, we return to mezzo forte, when we unexpectedly run into a last burst of autumn color down by the creek along the ball fields.

Mezzo forte

Mezzo forte

A sustained note.

A sustained note.

The sun, already trying to set on a winter afternoon, hit these low-lying leaves just right. Brilliant!

It seems like it will be Forever Autumn… so I’ll save some of the rest of your contributions just in case, and end with this from Crudely Wrott, whose title is quite appropriate.

And for those of you who need a sadsack song, this from RQ: because Autumn’s [still] Here:

At least for the moment…

Sunday Song: Neverworld’s End

It’s December 2012. End o’ the world, folks! What else can I do but feature end o’ the world songs? And laugh about people actually thinking this Mayan calendar hokum is right, and continue to think so despite thorough debunking. I do so love end of the world predictions! I especially love the morning after.

And I love a good theme. This will definitely do. Lots of end o’ the world songs out there that have been begging me to post them. We’ll begin with Xandria, which is a band that, until now, I’ve been fond of but not enthralled by. Some of their songs I do love deeply, mind you, but as far as favorites, the band as a whole was about middling on the list.



Jango recently played me a song off of Neverworld’s End, which I hadn’t heard of. Yes, I am horribly behind. This album came out nearly a year ago. Look, I’ve been bashing rocks. I’m busy. And Xandria wasn’t one of those bands I waited breathlessly for – until Jango played me this song, called “The Nomad’s Crown.” And I went, “That sounds like Xandria, and yet does not. It is delicious. I wonder why it’s so yummy?”

This turns out to because, for once, a band I like replaced a singer I enjoyed* with someone I am in awe of. It’s usually the other way around – or they replace one of my Favorite Singers of All Time with someone who makes me want to stab my eardrums out with a fork. Oh, people. Manuela Kraller has me swooning with happiness. Her voice is everything I’ve ever wanted from a symphonic metal singer. She’s verging on Simone Simon. Aaaahhh. Rich and resonant and really bloody amazing, that voice. I’m so glad she took up singing. I hope she never puts it down.

Anyway. Let’s have some end o’ the world music. Since we’re dealing with supposed Mayan prophecy, we’ll begin with “A Prophecy of Worlds to Fall.”

That’s still Xandria, but wow. Listened to that song three times in an hour the first time I encountered it. And to think – she didn’t start seriously singing until recently!

Okay. Now that we’ve had the prophecy, let’s get to the actual end: “The Lost Elysion.”

I think I found Elysion, right there on this album, actually. It is, the dictionary tells me, “A place or condition of ideal happiness.” Sums me up right now.

To round things out, let’s have the first song off this album I ever heard, which is actually the last song, because life is odd that way: “The Nomad’s Crown.”

If the world ended right now, it would hit me at a very happy moment. Ah, that is some beautiful stuff.


*I’ve developed a new appreciation for Lisa Middelhauve since hearing this album. She’s one of those singers who grows on me more with each passing year.

For those eagerly anticipating that promised extra autumn post, fear not: it is coming.