Musikalischer Mittwoch Has “Cows Around”

My family is full of cow people.  It’s a lot easier for me to count the number of people on Dad’s side who were not dairy farmers than it is to try and tally up how many of us were Holstein-hoarders.  While the rise of consolidated farm corporations forced the last of the family to give up the dairy business in about 2009…there are still plenty of cows around.  It’s like a disease.   Cows aren’t easy to have around.  They require more work and money than you’d think.  But, even though the family has all sought work off the farms and the milking barns are closed up, they don’t know how to give up having at least a few of those mooing, bellowing, chud-chewers around.  Even I still cling to the small dream of having my own place with room for a cow, despite the realities and facts I know about the damn things.

So when I was giving my first listen to Corb Lund’s new album, Cabin Fever, and “Cows Around” came on, I found myself clutching the steering wheel trying not to laugh myself right off the road (I was driving to visit Kristy at the time).

Every Corb Lund album gives me at least one dance-able western-swing style song (like “Little Foothills Heaven” on Hair In My Eyes Like A Highland Steer), and usually at least one song full of humor (like “Family Reunion” from Horse Soldier! Horse Soldier!).  This time, the two collided in one fabulous ear-worm.  The musical style and tune are very jaunty–it’s an instant toe-tapper.  It would be great for a really fast turn around the dance floor (think of the speed and style of something like Vince Gill/Reba McEntire’s “Oklahoma Swing”).  And then the lyrics, oh my.  If you don’t have first hand knowledge of the cow-ownership malady I described above, the song will sum up the situation concisely:  “Let me bestow this western blessing / Share what I have found / May you always have cows around / What else you gonna spend that extra money on? / What else is gonna get you up, hours before dawn?….”  On the surface, it’s funny because it’s the juxtaposition is ridiculous.  And for those of us who’ve encountered this, it’s hilarious for its accuracy.

And, if the cultural education provided by this depiction of the bizarre love-hate relationship cattle owners have with maintaining a herd, then you may at least appreciate the chance at 2:34 into the song to get a nicely rhymed listing of various breeds of cattle (both beef and dairy).

 

TVPB Lexicon: The Canada Problem

Clearly, if you’ve been reading this blog, you know we at MTV, MPB have no problem with our neighbors to the North.  In this case the “problem” belongs to Canada (and others, but we saw it with Canada first, so they got the name).  This particular “problem” continues to amuse us.  It has to do with their film and tv industry and it’s made all the more obvious by the amount of shows here in the US that are made in Canada:

You keep seeing the same people.

Seriously, if you’ve seen The X-Files?  You’ve seen the bulk of the available acting force in Canada.  If you’ve  seen X-Files and also Stargate, BSG and Anne of Green Gables?  I think you’ve got at least 99.9% of them.  If you’re watching Psych these days, you get to reap the benefits of going, “Dude that was so and so on Stargate AND he was in the X-Files.”  Then you get one-upped by someone who points out the person was in a brief scene in Anne of Avonlea.

It’s become a game with us.  In fact, it probably ought to be a drinking game.  1 drink if you saw them in Stargate SG1.  Two if they were in X-Files.  Three if they were in the X-Files twice (it happened!)….

It’s not strictly something that happens in Canada.  It appears the Canada problem also exists in Mexico.  I watched one telenovela and it’s allowed me to bounce up and down in my seat and squeal upon recognizing multiple actors in every single Mexican movie and TV show I’ve watched since.  Mexico?  Has a Canada problem.

I’m sure by now you’re trying to think of other countries with a Canada problem.  Britain seems to come to mind for people who are first experimenting with the term “Canada Problem” but this really isn’t correct.  Britain does have some significant faces you see repeatedly, but proportionally speaking, it’s not really that great.  You have to watch a lot of different British TV, movies and miniseries before you can really say you’ve seen the bulk of their actors, and they seem to churn out new ones (really good new ones) with amazing regularity.

I’ve got an eye open for others myself.  Colombia may be a candidate.  I’ve only sampled part of two telenovelas and one movie.  The telenovelas seem to have some overlap, but my sample size is too small to make a judgement at this point (it’s certainly not overwhelmingly clear as it was with Mexico).  India’s Bollywood scene begs for examination as well, but for reasons that will be illuminated in another post, my statistical sampling of India’s offerings has been thrown off.

If you’ve got other potentials, feel free to share in the comments.  We’re always eager to know where this problem has spread (we’re also eager to hear about other foreign film and tv)….

Travesty of a Time Vampire

This time vampire is one that I will never repeat (if I can help it).  Truth be told, I knew it was a bad idea.

Once upon a time, a dude named Kevin Sullivan made two fabulous miniseries portraying much of the Anne of Green Gables series.  It was not completely true to the books, but the creative license taken was forgiveable.

Then came a third series.  We try not to talk about this one.  It diverges so far from the actual books as to make it a travesty.  Rather than use the plethora of material in the books and bring to life the characters we knew and loved, this third installment utterly screwed the timeline (moving Anne a full generation later) and had no characters or plot remotely resembling the real thing.  I own the DVD only because I could not obtain the original two mini-series without it being stuck in the box–if I could have handed it back to the clerk, I would have done so.

So, when I found out that Mr. S was making a prequel to Anne, I knew this would be a train wreck.  After all, the pre-Green Gables period in Anne’s life is summed up in a chapter in Anne of Green Gables and a tiny pilgrimage in Anne of the Island.  In order to build a prequel, we would again be subject to completely non-canon material.

I avoided this one like the plague for several years.  But, when I stumbled on it at the library today, it jumped out at me.  After all, I’d gone through the other travesty and survived.  I might as well complete the full cycle, right?

ZOMG.

WRONG.

The scenery is gorgeous (as one would expect–it’s the same parts of Ontario-masquerading-as-PEI as featured in prior productions).  And the cast is quite good (Shirley MacLaine is always awesome, of course, but there’s no weak link in the cast–even the kids do a good job).  But no amount of scenery and acting makes up for the weakness in the material.  The timeline is still screwed up, it’s full of anachronisms and multiple key moments in the show are clearly cribbed from either prior Anne series or Jane Eyre.  Even the relationships themselves are clearly shadows of those in the real Anne series (Mrs. Thomas and Anne is a poorly drawn Marilla and Anne).

If I was able to completely set aside everything I know about Anne and treat this as a true stand alone story, it might not be too horrible (other than the anachronisms, but even those could partly be overlooked).  A family-friendly kind of costume drama.  The trouble is, they throw the Anne part in your face so much with those cribbed moments and copied snippets of dialog (and the care to cast the same Mrs. Hammond from the earlier miniseries).  It’s like Anne is being used as a marketing tool to sell something that someone wasn’t sure would stand up on its own (when, really, without that, it may have done better).

More than two hours Hoover’d outta my life to see one of my favorite literary universes subjected to a Mary Sue prequel.  This is to Anne fans what Star Wars I-III were to those of us who grew up in a world that started with Episode IV.

 

Musikalischer Mittwoch: Canadian Anniversaries

Today is CBC Radio’s 75th Birthday!  Huzzah!  It goes without saying that I am a tremendous fan of CBC Radio.  Radio 1 is what I wish I heard when I turn on NPR (but never do–they lack a Shelagh Rogers or Anna Maria Tremonti), and I shudder to think of my life without some of the fantastic music I’ve encountered through CBC 3.

That list of songs and artists is incredibly long, and it was difficult to identify one song this week that tied with the birthday message, until I recalled that CBC Radio 2 (which is great, and I should probably listen to it more than I do, but there are only so many hours in a day….) commissioned a birthday song for another Canadian milestone, the 100th Anniversary of Parks Canada this summer, from a favorite artist I discovered through Radio 3, Sarah Harmer.

It’s simply called “The Parks Song”  or “Chanson des parcs” for the Francophone set.  It immediately puts me in mind of a conversation with a friend of mine from BC about Canadian identity.  She pointed out a penchant for sitting around campfires and singing songs as being strangely ubiquitous among Canadians….and–to her mind–strangely absent when she visited other countries.  This song is perfectly suited to friends around a pit of dancing flames, swaying back and forth and singing along.  It just fits.  And CBC Radio having a hand in adding this beautiful tune to the campfire repertoire of their listeners just adds to the laundry list of awesome they already possess.

It’s probably a bit chilly to still be gathering around a campfire for a song, but should you be in a climate conducive to such an activity this evening, give this tune a try and give a little shout out to the radio network to the North that’s nice enough to share it with all of us.

Musikalischer Mittwoch: Dying Of Another Broken Heart

Sadly, I am stuck posting from my phone again, a situation that is hardly conducive to writing the kind of review my most recent Earworm deserves.

“Dying of Another Broken Heart” by Lindi Ortega, combines the kind of simple, clear county sound with a kind of well, adorableness.  I hear this song and it seems cute.  I mean, cute for a song about yet another broken heart.

That great tune and cuteness was catchy enough to start me exploring more from Ortega.  Her album Little Red Boots is currently $5 from Amazon’s mp3 store, so I gave it a shot.  It was totally worth it.

Also, it contributes to my Canadian country music part of the playlist on Radio 3….always a plus (so you can test drive several tracks there if you don’t want to part with $5 on my poorly constructed recommendation).

The Magician’s Musikalisher Mittwoch

Despite my attempts to make sure I don’t overdo the Canadian connection here, I couldn’t help but have another Canadian song this week.  There’s been so much talk lately about the new Said the Whale single, “Lines” coming relatively close on the heels of their documentary Winning America, I’ve been on a Said the Whale kick lately.

Heaviest on the rotation?  “Camilo (The Magician)”.  What can I say about this piece?  The song is fun, the guitar is great.  Much like last week’s pick, this is on my “Chair Dance” playlist for work–the kind of upbeat song that reenergizes a slow day and has me bobbing my head and tapping my feet.  If I weren’t in an open cube farm, there might even be air-guitar.

And Camilo is similar to Cammy.  And I’m all about me.

If you’ve not given Said the Whale a try and you like a solid pop-rock song, “Camilo” is  a great starting point (then try the new one “Lines”).  You can try it out at Said the Whale’s Band Camp page (see below), or, as usual, on CBC Radio 3.

 

Musikalischer Mittwoch Making Me Wanna Make a New Dance Up

The first thing I thought of upon hearing this most recent earworm is, “Wow, shades of The Miami Soundmachine.”  And apparently I’m not alone because the very same day, CBC Radio 3 Bloggers and Radio 3 host Grant Lawrence were all voicing similar opinions of this new song from the band Hey Ocean!  It’s not a remake or anything, but the sound  brings back some great memories of “Conga” just based on the way the refrain is delivered in a kind of rapid-fire way.

On top of this, it’s very peppy and very upbeat.  It’s now at the top of my “Energize” playlist for those times when I find myself slowing down too much at work.  If you do not feel compelled to tap your foot to this song (at an absolute minimum), I recommend contacting your physician immediately.  It’s a song about dancing that actually achieves the goal of making people want to dance.

The lyrics are not overly deep or meaningful.  This is bubble-gum pop stuff, but that’s not a bad thing.  Saddling people with deep, thought-provoking lyrics would kind of detract from the way the music drives you to get up and move your ass.  Besides, Hey Ocean has plenty of other fantastic songs which have the lyrics covered–this one is fine to be fun based on pure sound.

As usual, you can hear the song at the CBC Radio 3 page, AND, at least for right now, Hey Ocean! has made this track available as a free download on their Facebook page (you can also stream some of their other tracks–I also recommend “Fish”).  Load it up, revel in the memories of 80s Miami Sound Machine Goodness in a shiny new Canadian package…and make a new dance up.

Musikalischer Mittwoch: Held “Captive” By An Earworm

I’ve been “held captive” by yet another song on repeat.  It’s one I should have known about much sooner, but was only introduced to earlier this month as I’ve been re-establishing my quality time with CBC radio 3.

Sarah Harmer’s “Captive” is poised to become the song of the summer for me.  Within just a few listens, I was out buying the album (“Oh Little Fire”) because I had to have this tune.  It’s catchy, upbeat and just plain fun.  It’s going  into my road-trip mix and is already on my playlist for working out.

After all my usual go-to Sarah Harmer songs like “I Am a Glow” and “Escarpment Blues” and “The Hideout”, “Captive” is a departure.  Where the others are definitely heavy to the acoustic and folk side (which I love), “Captive” is refreshingly pop.  If you want something to dance around the house and sing along with, it’s tailor-made for the occasion.  That’s not to say the other Harmer pieces aren’t just as good (if you are in the mood for some great acoustic folk, check out any of those others–“I Am A Glow” is a particular favorite of mine).

The music is definitely the draw here.  Lyrically it’s a fun love song (“I wanna be held captive/Forget the way I acted”….”As long as there’s a view to look to/Fence me in and keep me close to you”), which is all well and good, but the real fun is in the beat and the “Oh-oh-oh-ohs” (ever notice how songs with things like that are automatically more fun to sing along with?).

And, bonus, there’s a fun video.  A whacky visual piece with late 1800s/early 1900s costumes, some trampoline-style acrobatics (without the trampoline) and streets turned into canals.  It’s nice to know people still make music vids, even though the crappy cable channels never play them.  In this case, you get the fun of watching AND it gives me an easy (and legal, since this is posted by the record company) way to share the song* with you, gentle readers:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qV2Ab0hE4HE

Have a look, have a listen and let yourself be held “Captive.”

*You can also listen, as usual, on the CBCR3 Page.

Exploring Coffee With Leif Ericson

Cammy: Do Norse explorers drink coffee?  If not, I’m sure he’d take alcohol in some form.  But yes, I definitely want a drink with the guy (and a damned good interpreter).  In 8th grade I had to write a research paper on Leif Ericson in my Early American History class.  Actually, I just had to write about an explorer, period.  I chose ol’ Leif because I was intrigued by the idea that all the previous crap about Columbus being the first gringo in the “New” World wasn’t true. And ever since then,  I’ve wanted to see L’Anse Aux Meadows in Newfoundland, as it is rumored to be the site of the settlement Leif and his crew established (yes, I really have wanted to visit Newfoundland for more than half my life).  And years later, his explorations into the west made for the perfect basis of my pseudo theory about the Elves from Lord of the Rings*.  While I definitely embrace the “Vikings-as-the-first-whiteys-here” theory in general, I also want to use the time to dig into more detailed truth:  was the L’Anse Aux Meadows really the site of Leif’s settlement, or was it further south in what’s now New Brunswick?  Or even Massachusetts or New York as some evidence has hinted?  And why not stick around?  One would think that even in a time when the climate was warm enough to make Greenland less of a wasteland than it is now, the Maritime Provinces/New England Coastal area would be a better option.  Was it the native population that dissuaded them?


Kristy: Sure. Like Cammy I would also like the for realsies truth about all the possible Viking settlements (Cammy didn’t include Minnesota but I will). Also I am, or rather was, an immigration scholar and what’s an explorer but an immigrant with a good boat? I’d like to hear the why behind the what of what he did. You know the man’s got a collection of great stories.

*Okay, here’s the thing:  Elves in Tolkien?  Definitely tied to the whole Norse thing.  Vikings?  Explored to the west, over the sea.  Elves?  Go “Into the West” over the sea.  So I’m thinking Leif & Co. were in charge of mass-transit for the Elf exodus to the Grey Havens.  They were totally making for the Americas!  And do you think any Elf in his right mind would stick around in Newfoundland when they could book it south to Cancun?  That’s right.  The Elves & Select Friends were carted over by Leif and are currently running several very high-end resorts along the Mexican Coast.

If I Disappear….Question the Squash.

First, Happy Canada Day!  Hope our neighbors to the north had a great celebration.  I marked the occasion rocking out to the annual Radio 3 “Sing For Your Song” podcast special, followed by a lot of back podcasts of Shelagh Rogers’ “The Next Chapter.”

Second.

My squash really are going to kill me.

Last year it was the tomato plant that went nuts.  This year it’s the squash.  I actually spent time whacking off leaves today because they’re choking out the eggplants, the cherry tomato and the Hungarian pepper.  Even the separate container of dill had to be rolled further away to escape the encroachment.  This damn stuff is working toward a manifest destiny in which all of Missouri is covered in patty pan squash.

I lament that I didn’t get a chance to post this earlier, or I’d run out and take photos of these beasts.  I may yet come back and update this with some visual aids.  I’ve helped out with a lot of squash plants in my life, but these are proving to be more….aggressive.  And I swear they really are headed closer to the back door every day….

On the upside, there were 3 ready to be harvested and tons more lurking on the way.  Normally I would have photographed these initial yields from the garden, but I was hungry, tired and lazy and opted just to sautee and eat them (yes, part of this hurry was out of a slight fear that they might eat me first).

So if you y’all don’t hear from me for a long period of time….call the police, tell them to bring glyphosate and be prepared to question the squash heavily.

Update:  I braved the plants to take the following.  Not sure I’ll try it again.  They’re now in cahoots with the mosquitoes.  I can’t win against that kind of power.

My hand trying to push back the encroaching squash plant. That’s not the largest leaf…