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. [Read more…]

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! [Read more…]

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?” [Read more…]

Sunday Song: Afterimage of Autumn

Autumn images have proven unexpectedly popular, so it’s a good thing I’m not out of pictures – or songs – yet. But all good things, etc. This will, alas, be the last – until next autumn. Of course, if you’re all very fortunate and I’m unlucky indeed, we may have some spectacular winter shots coming right up. Don’t hold your breath, though. This is Seattle. Gray and drippy is much more likely than white and sparkly.

Let’s get in the proper frame of mind with a traditional rendition of “Sato no Aki.” [Read more…]

Sunday Song: Autumn Interlude

You know how you hear a word that you weren’t paying much attention to, and suddenly it’s everywhere? Yeah. That’s happening with autumn. Here I am, minding my own business, listening to my new favorite radio app Jango (ha ha ha fuck you and your intrusive ads, Pandora!), and thinking I had autumn songs sewn up already because, hey, I have a whole bloody playlist full of ’em – then they hit me with two more. And they are gorgeous.

First, though, a photo to get you all in the mood. [Read more…]

Saturday Song: [Learning] Japanese

It turns out that one (not particularly efficient) way of learning Japanese is to spend a whole day reading haiku based around the same theme. After a while, even though the translations are loose at best, you begin to pick out particular words and know what they mean. I can now say “red dragonfly.” Aka tombo. And when I see aki (秋), I know autumn is somehow involved. Look, it’s more Japanese than I knew yesterday morning.

But if any readers speak Japanese, I’d dearly love to know what the phrase “tombo kana” means. Do you know how good online translators are with Japanese? Not good at all. Do you know what it did to a perfectly beautiful, deeply meaningful Issa poem? Observe: [Read more…]