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.

Autumn leaf falling

Autumn leaf falling

Right, then. Here’s the first: Amethystium’s “Autumn Interlude.” You’ll notice the video itself is short on autumn, but since it’s long on geology, hydrology, meteorology, astronomy, probably some other ologies I failed to notice, and ends with a spectacular plunge that will leave you breathless with delight, watch it anyway.

I would just like to point out a few things about Amethystium that I love. First, Amethystium. Yes, one of my favorite semi-precious gems. Second, amazing good music. Third, one of his albums is named Odonata and a second has a very lovely dragonfly illustration, so fellow dragonfly-adorer.  Nice!

Anyway, I shall now make up for the lack of autumn images in that video for “Autumn Interlude.” And how.

Autumn I

Autumn I

Autumn II

Autumn II

Autumn III

Autumn III

Autumn IV

Autumn IV

Now, long-time readers may remember I have an Epica obsession. Favorite band of all time that isn’t the Peacemakers. And Jango played me a song by them I’d never heard, and the chorus has the phrase “autumn leaves,” and so I did a mad little dance and decided forthwith I must share it with you. This is a beautiful, if somewhat melancholy, song.

Oh, Simone Simon always, always, captivates. Her voice. Wow.

Right, more autumn.

Autumn V

Autumn V

Autumn VI

Autumn VI

But the rains have come, the trees are nearly bare (aside from that one by the door that refuses to let go of its summer foliage), and autumn is over. Let us have the last of the autumn music, then, beginning with a choir piece for RQ: “Autumn Song.”

And we’ll bring our autumn escapades to a close with a lovely choral version of “Sato no Aki.”

Seems like a good sendoff to the season.

Autumn rain through sunlight

Autumn rain through sunlight

Sunday Song: Sato No Aki

So I went a little nuts on photographing autumn foliage this year. Then I went a little more nuts on finding songs about autumn on YouTube. Look, I was multitasking during that last bit – and some of the songs I found are bonza. Problem is, there are too many of them.

Ah, well. We’ll just have a few to start, and you can go sample ye olde Aki playlist at will, and perhaps I’ll throw a few more up over the next few weeks, before autumn (aki) is officially over.

This is so far my favorite version of “Sato no aki”  (里の秋) – which as far as I can tell means something like “village of autumn” or “autumn in the village” – but some of you will know.

 

And some lovely autumn foliage.

Autumn Leaves I

Autumn Leaves I

North Creek Autumn

North Creek Autumn

So that last photo is no “Autumn Moon Over the Calm Lake,” but it’ll do.

Love that song – very mellow and melodious.

Autumn Leaves II

Autumn Leaves II

Autumn Leaves III

Autumn Leaves III

This next find surprised and delighted me quite a bit. I’m not sure what I was expecting from a group called Coldcut, but it wasn’t this smoky, jazzy-with-a-modern-beat indescribable bit of wonderful.

Discovering that song made me highly glad I’d gotten this wild idea lodged in my brainpan to begin with.

Autumn Leaves IV

Autumn Leaves IV

Autumn Leaves V

Autumn Leaves V

Turns out the dying season has some life in it after all…

Metal Cred – I Still Haz It

My old friend and former coworker Hank posted this to my Facebook timeline. He knew I’d get it.

Black Metal LOLcat

Yep. You sure did.

If you utter a dark laugh and require no explanation, then you, too, have metal cred. If you need an explanation… well, then, whatever metal cred you may have, it ain’t of the black metal variety.

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:

.遠山が目玉にうつるとんぼ哉 = “Kenya moves to Toyama dragonfly eyeball” according to Google Translate. I can assure you that’s not correct. Bing thinks it’s “Dragonfly Naoya tohyama catching centerpiece.” This, too, is incorrect. Gah.*

So, if you speak Japanese, and wouldn’t mind telling me what some of this stuff really says, I want to hear from you! If you have trouble commenting, just drop me a line at dhunterauthor at yahoo dot com.

And you all will see what I’m up to shortly. I haz planz. Oh, yes. You will never be the same again afterward.

All of which has put me in mind of a song from my past.

Which, according to the people who wrote it, is about “turning into something you didn’t expect to,” among other things. I think we can all relate to that.

And look – whilst I was listening to Pandora and writing this post, I learned a new Japanese phrase: Red bird. Akai tori.

Loves me some Yoshida Brothers, I do. And red birds (akai tori). Somebody send me another bright red UFD so I can use that phrase in a UFD post title… and while you do that, I’m going to go back to geology, which is easier to learn than Japanese.

 

*I got curious about this “Toyama/tohyama” business, so I searched: turns out it could be Mount Tsurugi (Toyama). It makes sense based on the translations I’ve seen. Now, I don’t know if “toyama” in Japanese refers to that specific mountain or mountains in general or is symbolic thereof, but it would be pretty freaking awesome if I knew specifically which mountain was being reflected in a dragonfly’s eyes two centuries ago, wouldn’t it? So I choose to live in hope, at least until a native speaker comes along to shatter my dreams.

Monday Music: Help a Choir Out

Some might be surprised to find out, but I sang in concert choir in high school. It was full of personalities, so to speak, and always had some drama going on. Most of us (self included) had voices of indifferent quality at best. And we were hormonal teenagers who were often too distracted to follow instructions properly, much less throw heart and soul into making wonderful music. But our director was an amazing fellow who took less-than-ideal ingredients and mixed them into magic. It was great fun. And there’s something wonderful about turning words into a rich, flowing sound that fills every cranny of an auditorium.

We could have used better outfits, though. Our men looked like cheap Vegas best men and the ladies looked like they’d just stepped out of a production of Macbeth, still holding the ladle for stirring cauldrons and cackling. New outfits weren’t in our stars, though – not a small town high school concert choir competing for microscopic funds against the football team.

So when one of our own turns out to be a member of a choir that’s looking to get new uniforms, of course I want to help! You can, too. They’re doing a sort of Latvian version of a Kickstarter, but in this case, you don’t have to donate dollars, just vote. You’ll need a cell phone, because this site texts you a code to use, and it’s in Latvian, so you’ll need RQ to guide you through, but it’s not terribly difficult.

First, a song for motivational purposes.

RQ says that’s a “Latvian epic poem about dead heroes rising again, classic Latvian choir fare and a favourite at any possible venue, no matter how badly performed – one of those songs everyone thinks they know by memory until they actually have to sing it.”

Right. That should have you warmed up a bit. Let’s move on to a “traditional Latvian song about bread and working hard to get it.” We can all identify, even if we don’t understand a word, right?

Right? Now, let’s have “Latvia’s unofficial national anthem, traditional song about going home and getting the girl – now a drinking song because it’s fun to sing off-key.” I like a song that’s fun to sing off-key, because despite the concert choir training twenty years ago, I am still better at singing off-key…

Okay, that should have you thoroughly ready to jump on a Latvian site and attempt to upvote RQ’s choir, I hope. Here’s what to do:

CLICK HERE: http://www.labiedarbi.lv/lv/balso_par_projektu/atbalsts-jauniesu-kora-sonore-koncertterpu-susanas-pabeigsanai.html . The column in orange on the right – where it says ‘Valsts:’, select country of origin [ASV for Americans]; where it says ‘Numurs:’, enter your mobile (cell) number (the country code changes automatically when you select your respective location); then press the button that says ‘Saņemt kodu (bezmaksas)’. That means ‘Receive code (free)’. The site has all the usual assurances about not sharing your cell number with third parties and secure connections and all that, in case anyone’s interested. Then they’ll send you a code that you have to enter in order to vote, and when THAT happens, you’ll notice a new, empty fields with the title ‘Kods:’ will have appeared; enter the code, and hit the button ‘Balsot!’ (‘Vote!’).
Everyone who does so has my eternal gratitude, as well as an invitation to the Canadian-Latvian Song and Dance Festival in Hamilton, Canada* in 2014 (my choir are the officially invited choir from Latvia for that particular year). You can all come to the Latvian festival, which is next year, here, in Riga, Latvia, and if we have the (a) house by then, we might be able to put you up (if nobody minds putting up with 3 active children on a vacation :P ). It’s a small country but there’s lot of interesting things to see (including some geology that I used to think was rather boring but turns out it isn’t so much).

See? Pretty simple. Of course, when I tried, I didn’t get the text, but I have crappy pre-paid service, so your mileage will probably vary, especially if you’re in Europe.

For those who would like more music from RQ’s choir: “try http://www.draugiem.lv/sonore/ . The playlist is on the right side, go nuts. I recommend, from that list, items 3, 4, 5 and 6 – just because they’re Latvian songs by Latvian composers. The others are pretty heavy, technical fare.”

Those of us who have fond memories of our concert choirs probably began salivating gently at the “heavy, technical fare” bit. Go. Vote. Listen. Enjoy! And join me in planning to get a passport and head up to Canada, if not save some pennies and get the hell over to Latvia. Geology and music, plus new uniforms we helped them get? Brilliant!

 

*RQ adds, “By the way, the Hamilton area has some neat geology, for some added incentive… It’s right on the Niagara Escarpment (of which the Falls are only a part), which is full of all kinds of trails and stuff, and I have no doubt that it is full of geological and other nature discoveries. :)”

Sunday Song: Gangnam Style

After today, I may have no readership. This post contains content that may be offensive to all viewers. There will be the “Oh gawd that song is horrible and now it’s stuck in my head!” crowd. There will be those who found elements of the video unforgivable, especially those with a sense of taste or color coordination. There will be those who roll their eyes and say, “Dana, are you really that far behind on pop culture?” to which I will have to admit, “Yes,” which will then cause those readers to abandon me as hopeless.

So there are huge potential losses, but I’m going to post this anyway. Because, and I hate to admit this, I actually do like the song and think the video’s a scream. And because – but we’ll get to that in a moment.

First, watch this video, and please try to remember that you once loved me, or at least liked me in a vague sort of way.

So that’s what Starspider foisted on me on Friday. Possibly a horrible thing to do to a sick woman. And then there was trying to explain this song to someone who was already muddled on cold medicine. I’ve gone back and read the Wikipedia entry, and it turns out she did an excellent job pounding certain concepts through that cotton wool-stuffed brain of mine.

“Gangnam Style” is a Korean neologism that refers to a lifestyle associated with the Gangnam district of Seoul, where people are trendy, hip and exude a certain supposed “class”. The term was listed in Time’s weekly vocabulary list as a manner associated with lavish lifestyles in Seoul’s Gangnam district. Psy likened the Gangnam District to Beverly Hills, California, and said in an interview that he intended a twisted sense of humor by claiming himself to be “Gangnam Style” when everything about the song, dance, looks, and the music video is far from being such a high class. In another interview with CNN, Psy added that:

“People who are actually from Gangnam never proclaim that they are – it’s only the posers and wannabes that put on these airs and say that they are “Gangnam Style” – so this song is actually poking fun at those kinds of people who are trying so hard to be something that they’re not.”

The song talks about “the perfect girlfriend who knows when to be refined and when to get wild.” The song assists in defining this by the singer exclaiming “Ehhhhh Sexy Lady!” The song’s refrain “오빤 강남 스타일 (Oppan Gangnam style)” has been translated as “I live a Gangnam style”, with Psy referring to himself; “Oppa” is a Korean expression used by females to refer to an older male friend or older brother.

And why have I foisted this bit of Korean pop culture on you? For the same reason Starspider did it to me: so that you could truly appreciate this epic parody.

Okay? Even if you hate the song, you have to respect this. Even if you aren’t a Star Trek fan, you surely must admire the dedication required to translate a Korean pop song into Klingon, and make the costumes (although I suspect several of them had their costumes already. Look, I belonged to a Star Trek fan club once. I know how we are).

Nothing will ever beat that. Well, I say never, but something might, it’s just that they’ve got a hell of a hill to climb. Still, the fact someone sat down and caused a game to do this makes a nice runner-up. Although it does get upsetting in some places…

There. I’ve inflicted that song on you three times now, and I’m only slightly sorry. I hope you find it in your hearts to forgive me, someday. Or, if you found these wildly hilarious and inflicted them upon friends and family, that you do not end up abandoned and alone. Just remind your loved ones that time heals most wounds, and will probably, eventually, and with appropriate therapy, heal these.

Sunday Song: Azam Ali

My metal cred is probably completely shot after all the showtunes, folk music, neoclassical operatic electronica, and such. Might as well stomp the last shards into powder by posting some Middle Eastern world music kinda thing.

It won’t hurt. I promise.

My first real introduction into this world was at a little shop in downtown Flagstaff. It was one of those places that sells world imports: statues of Buddha and various Egyptian and Indian gods, incense, other miscellaneous decorative items, bits of small furniture carved in intricate patterns, various textiles… you know the kind of place. They always have something exotic playing in the background. On this day, when we walked in, the shop was suffused with a sublime female voice, and sounded as if it belonged to a different century in a far-away part of the world. Captivating.

We asked about it. The shop clerk took us to a barrel in which many CDs were displayed, and gushed about Azam Ali. Portals of Grace was her first solo effort, but she’d been with Vas. We then got a dissertation on Vas and related music, and by the time that was finished enough of the album had played for me to decide it should probably come home with me.

Lasse Pour Quoi

Haunting, isn’t it? I get that song stuck in my head from time-to-time, and make no effort to dislodge it.

“Ben Pode Santa Maria” is sometimes my favorite song from this album, though.

And yes, you might have noticed those actually aren’t Middle Eastern songs, but medieval European. World music, doncha know. Don’t worry, we’ll get to the stuff that’s actually Middle Eastern in just a moment. First, though, I want to gush about the fact she has a song on the Neil Gaiman tribute album Where’s Neil When You Need Him? Neil Gaiman is, of course, my favorite author, and it’s neat to see musicians I like so much intersecting in unexpected ways.

The Cold Black Key

Right. So, Middle Eastern music. Azam Ali is also part of an Iranian electronic band named Niyaz, which I bloody well adore. “Sadrang” is based on the work of Amīr Khusrow, a 13th century Persian poet and musician, and it is delicious.

This song, “Spring Arrives,” is from her solo album Elysium for the Brave. Don’t let the English title fool you: it’s not in English. This song has been haunting me since I first heard it a few days ago: I downloaded the album Saturday morning, and have played it twice and this song I don’t know how many times since. Love it.

You lot may not love it as much as I do, but you’ll love the birds, and there’s also some delicious geology, so watch.

And, finally, because it has some truly great geology in it as well as being awesome music, the Vas song “Unbecome.”

That should give you some idea of why I adore this woman.

Sunday Song: Fun With Drugs

Thank you, all of you, for your enormous outpouring of support. I figured I’d get a few “Yay good luck!” comments. I got so much more. With this sort o’ backing, I think this might actually work!

It’s also nice to know I’m joining such an awesome crowd of quitters. Quitting drugs is one form of quitting I can wholeheartedly endorse – especially when the company’s congenial.

I filled my scrip for Chantix today, and the dreams have already started. Merely having it in the house, unopened, led to a nightmare in which Doctor Who was canceled. A truly terrible nightmare indeed. This is some powerful shit.

Since I’m about to start a prescription drug, I’m thinking about drugs, and one of my favorite songs about drugs ever.

Velvet Acid Christ is one of those bands my friend Cameron Lee suggested when I went to him for techno suggestions. When I write, I try to play music the current viewpoint character would like. Unfortunately for me, August Santana is a techno fan. Cameron knows how not-enamored I am of dance music, so he found things that had the techno feel with some metal cred. Saved my life, he did. I was afraid I was going to end up with several club mixes and suicidal ideations.

The moment I heard “Fun With Drugs,” I knew I loved VAC. Then I heard “Satan Complex 42,” and the deal was done.

One of my other favorites from that foray is VNV Nation. Rather more upbeat than VAC without being pollyanna, fantastic lyrics and sound, gorgeous.

Speaking of farthest stars, I’m off to Oregon. I’ll have intermittent access to the intertoobz, and I should have some fabulous pictures for you soon. This is fun without drugs, of which I’ve always found plenty. Lockwood and I are dragging Virginia transplant Aaron Barth with us to Quartzville. This is going to be fantastic. And there’s plenty of room for extras, so if you happen to be near Corvallis and free on Monday, let me know – if you can drag your ass out at seven in the ay-em and face at least twelve hours of intense geology, you’re completely invited.

Fun times, my darlings! We can haz them. And if you can’t make it, no worries – I’ll make sure you get a vicarious vacation you’ll not soon forget.

Sunday Song: Old Jerome

One of the things I love best about blogging is stumbling across the unexpected. When I was researching for Oceans of Ore: How an Undersea Caldera Eruption Created Jerome, Arizona, I certainly wasn’t in the market for music. But I stumbled upon a reference to a song called “Old Jerome” by Kate Wolf. I’m not much of a folk music fan, but I sought it out on YouTube anyway, and discovered it’s quite beautiful.

Now, you may notice that’s not Kate Wolf singing. I couldn’t find a video for her. But a quick search uncovered the track on MySpace. She’s got the right voice for this old town: lovely, haunting, a little bit desert.

Since 1983, when she wrote this song, restoration has continued apace. A lot of the buildings that stared out with empty eyes are now homes and shops and museums. And this song is its anthem.

I meant to put this up a few weeks ago, but got distracted by other shiny things. Good thing, too, because I hadn’t copied the embed code for the song, so had to search for it again. I must have used a different search string this time, because a Tony Norris song came up called “High Tide in the Desert.” It’s about boats, and Jerome, and sailing the desert. It might sound a bit silly. But remember: this whole area has been a sea several times. It began under an ocean. If those boats wait patiently enough, they’ll get a chance to sail again, several million years from now.

Or, y’know, someone could just tow ‘em down to a lake…

This little ghost town has inspired a lot of music, it turns out. For our final song, we’ll have Barenaked Ladies, “Jerome.”

When I saw this song mentioned on Wikipedia, I was all like, “Whatevs. They probably have no idea what they’re talking about.” But they do! Listening to this song was like being transported there. They know Mingus Mountain! They even know the old jail slid downhill! I have no idea how a Canadian came to know my little Arizona mining town so intimately, but Kevin Hearn got it spot-on. Beautiful!

All of this makes me want to wander those old streets again. Shame about it being in Arizona. But it’s a liberal enclave, so at least my tourist dollars will be supporting the rebels, eh?

Sunday Song: Storm

It’s been a stormy week. Some of the storms are metaphorical, but they had real-life effects. Some of the storms were real, and had real-life effects. I should be in Oregon right now, recovering from a day banging on rocks at Quartzville. But Lockwood and I called that off because the weather kept looking stormier and stormier. Also, Aunty Flow’s doing those “Guess who’s coming to make you miserable!” nudges. When that happens, it’s best not to nudge back by engaging in strenuous physical exercise.

All of this has left me with one song going through my head:

Thing is, I couldn’t see the storm – the real one, I mean (the metaphorical one was bloody fucking obvious and has been for some time). I realized a day or so ago that we did, indeed, have a storm coming in. Silly thing to say, right? I mean, the weather was nice for two days, but the forecast predicted rain for the weekend, what else would it be but a storm? It’s just that rain is Seattle’s default weather. I’ve stopped thinking in terms of rainstorms. A storm system moves in that brings rain, but I don’t see it as a storm, just rain, just ordinary weather. A storm, to my Arizona mind, implies an upheaval, something different, something a bit wild and chaotic. Days upon days of gentle drizzle interrupted by occasional sunbreaks don’t register as stormy. But they are.

And the rain came down hard Saturday. It got serious about the business. It reminded me of the Noah Open, which is what my dad and his golfing buddies named the tournament they played in during an epic monsoon storm in Flagstaff. I could barely see to drive to the mall, but they stayed the course. They’re more hardcore than I am, those golfers. I didn’t step a foot outside of shelter today, and yet this rain was the lightest of spring drizzles compared to the downpour (with lightning!) they played through. But for Seattle, this was a serious storm.

So I did a desultory bit of cleaning, yammered at my intrepid companion over the phone, and then settled down to read up a bit on threat assessment. You’ll see the results of that soon. I decided that, seeing as how it was a dark and stormy day, I’d sink into the bathtub with a book. That’s about the time the clouds went away and the sun came out.

I had a bath anyway. Then I went up on the drumlin and enjoyed the brief sunshine. I was after birds, but the buggers didn’t cooperate. I saw a hummingbird, too small and distant to try to capture with a point-and-shoot camera. One day, I’m going to see about setting up a hummingbird feeder so I can catch the little bastards in action. I’ll just have to ensure I do it right – I remember hearing somewhere that some feeders are harmful, and I don’t want to hurt any hummingbirds. I just want to shoot them with a camera.

I’m rambling, aren’t I? Never mind me. Where were we? Ah, yes, storms. I don’t mind storms, actually. Much. Sure, they sometimes keep me from doing what I’d like, but they’re quite often necessary. The metaphorical one certainly has been. It needn’t ever to have happened. You’d think people who call themselves skeptics would be rational enough to handle the idea of harassment policies without completely losing their shit. But they have, and so there’s a storm howling round us, and when it clears, I do believe we’ll find a shiny, fresh set of harassment policies designed to make everyone’s* experience better gleaming in the sun, because most people in this movement are rational enough to realize such things are necessary. Obviously, also, desperately needed, considering the behavior of those who hate them so much.

Things thankfully haven’t gotten stormy round the cantina, because every single person who’s commented has been brilliant. You’re good people, and I appreciate you more than I can ever express.

You’re my raincoat and umbrella. You’re allowing me to venture out into the storm without worrying about getting too soggy. Thank you.

It’s only going to get stormier before the sun’s out, I’m afraid. But that’s all right. We’ll weather it just fine, all of us together.

Okay, so the lyrics don’t quite match my optimism. Just stick with the title and we’ll get there.

Here’s a good place.

The Finnish, according to Dark Lyrics, translates thusly:

The shadow of goodness covers the tear,
Takes the step to the one found.
Peace may rock the cradle to sleep.
Hope remains, a way to love.
A way to a deep freedom.

All we have to do is weather the storms. And we will, my darlings. We will**.

 

*Excepting those who must harass to have a good time, but who gives a shit if they’re not satisfied?

**Even if Dark Lyrics is completely wrong about the Finnish. I’m really not sure. Bing (formerly Babelfish, which was far cooler) made a dog’s breakfast of the translation. But if you want a good laugh, go paste this:

Hyvyyden varjo peittää kyyneleen,
löytäneen luo vie askeleen.
Rauha saa, kehto uneen tuudittaa.
Toivo jää, tie rakkauteen.
Tie syvään vaupauteen.

Into here. Yep.

I don’t think Google Translate has anything to fear from Bing just yet.