tilly_stratford: (LS: Please run)
The age-old adage goes "The thing about running is: Nobody else gives a shit about running." Cardio, it seems, is something my more active friends subject themselves to in order to become better at some other athletic activity (lifting, skiing, handball, dancing). Me, I just want to be a runner.

(I call what I do running; It's really jog-walk cycles, as per my couch-to-5k programme's instructions). I'm still a far cry from the sleek, gazelle-like runners I pass on my route, but comparing my aerobic base to what it was a year ago I really have made progress, and I'm pretty proud of myself.

Anyway, nobody but runners give a shit about running. I've started becoming unusually interested in other runners' habits and techniques and diet. I particularly enjoy learning what music other people run to -- it's hardly ever music I'd put on my running playlist, but I find it fascinating anyway.

So hey, here's some songs I friggin' love running to right now.

Like a speeding bullet )
tilly_stratford: (Cat: Miyazaki handle with care)
It's not often I get blown away by a music video (I've even heard convincing arguments that the Age of Music Videos are long gone), but I need to share this four-minute masterpiece:

The song itself is in French, but the choreography and filming perfectly expresses the story on its own. (After a while I even realized that the title -- the despaired cry in the refrain -- 'Papaoutai' is a phonetically written Papa, où t'es?, "Daddy, where are you?")

I'm in love with this music video.
tilly_stratford: (Bogie)
I was researching how to get hold of more of the Fantômas books when I came across an odd little tidbit of pop culture: A monotonous yet creepy song from 1933 called 'La Complainte de Fantômas', or The Ballad of Fantômas. It's even available on Spotify.

Had it been five or six verses long it'd be a fairly listenable song, but no, it has TWENTY-SIX verses each cryptically referring plot points from the forty-something novels, with little coherency between them. I guess that's why they chose to call it a ballad.

I particularly like how the first verse goes (translated):
Listen up - hey quiet down -
To this sad and mournful list
Of crimes too dreadful to name
Of tortures and violence
Unpunished each time, alas
By the criminal Fantômas
And then the remaining twenty-five verses are detailed descriptions of all the grisly things Fantômas does, like making gloves out of cadaver hands to disguise his finger prints (they're pretty morbid books in that early 1900s pulp fiction kind of way). Too dreadful to name, indeed.

But hey, at least my favourite character Inspector Juve and his loyal journalist companion Fandor get a few shoutouts. Though not mentioning all the crossdressing is a clear shortcoming of the song.
tilly_stratford: (Blue & Gold)
I suddenly got curious about the existence of comic-centric songs and the internet proved me right. The only problem with songs in various "Top X songs written about comics" lists was that A) Like Black Sabbath's 'Iron Man', they weren't actually written with comic book characters in mind, or B) Like Wings' 'Magneto and Titanium Man', they weren't particularly good.

So hey, I made my own. With some half-assed graphics thrown in because I felt like it.

She talks like a Daily Planet reporter )


Ookla The Mook: 'Stop Talking about Comic Books or I'll Kill You'

I just couldn't care less if they bring back Kraven
And I don't care if Spider-Man's a clone
Stop spending all our cash on back issues of the Flash
Or I swear to God you're gonna spend your twilight years alone
When all else fails.
tilly_stratford: (Default)
Okay not all of them were subpar, I was happy every time I got a fourth-wall joke and a mellow Crosby love song - ANYWAY: I've watched all the Bob&Bing Road movies! Why oh why did they make that last one. Why did they replace Dorothy Lamour (who was still looking great!) with Joan Collins. Why.

I think Road to Utopia still is my favourite. Might be because that was the first one I watched, but also I think Doroty Lamour in that velvet dress singing Johnny Mercer's 'Personality' is so cute:

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Anyway, here's a thing somebody needs to confirm or deny for me: With all this in mind, I came across a post about the Dreamworks movie Road to El Dorado (no I'm not thinking about whether the creators intended for Miguel and Tulio to be boyfriends, that seems like an urban legend to me). See, it sort of clicked. Dreamworks intended it to be a series, right? About two conmen buddies traveling the world? And they get mistaken for something they're not? And they hook up with a badass lady? And there are musical interludes? So either this is one of those homages that are completely obvious to everybody but me, or I need to put the brakes on this Bing Crosby obsession of mine.

Anyway, I've been meaning to rewatch that movie anyway, seeing as the first (and only) time I saw it was on a train journey where I was too self-conscious about watching a children's movie in public to really appreciate it. But I remember being kind of "meh" about it, I wonder why. I mean, the animations is wonderful, I remember thinking the music by Elton John was pretty catchy...

Oh wait. There it is. "Your horse bit me in the butt!" Yup, Dreamworks humour. I think I'll rather stick to The Emperor's New Groove (I've only watched the Norwegian dub, which was uncommonly hilarious, but I definitely need to see the original. Because Eartha Kitt. And Tom Jones.)
tilly_stratford: (Bogie)
I was so certain I'd watched To Have and Have Not years ago, but it kept nagging in the back of my mind, so I sat down to watch it yesterday - and no, I hadn't (a bit like The Big Sleep, only I've watched that several times and yet I can never remember it). As much as I love both Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, I have some trouble keeping the movies apart.

Anway, strangest thing... Or not strange at all, but an interesting coincidence: There's this song I discovered several months ago via the magic of Spotify and that I completely love to bits. Yesterday I'm watching To Have and Have Not, and then - hey, I know that intro!

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(Interesting how they rewrote the line about opium and yet the audience laughs like the punchline's still there.)

What I didn't know was that Hoagy Carmichael - the guy at the piano - is the man who wrote it. I've seen it credited to Johnny Mercer and even Spike Jones, but nope, it's Carmichael's.

Then I looked around a bit and I can't believe all the famous songs he's written; 'Stardust', 'Two sleepy people', 'Georgia on my mind', 'Small fry' (again, I was certain that was Mercer's), 'In the cool cool cool of the evening', and get this; 'Heart and soul' (which by another amazing coincidence I finally learned to play on the piano only a month ago)! I don't know why, I've always assumed 'Heart and soul' to be one of those always-been-there tunes with no known composer... Maybe everyone knows it was written by this guy, but I certainly didn't.

And he recorded several songs with my favourite clarinet player, Bix Beiderbecke. It's like the universe decided to give me a present!
tilly_stratford: (Bogie)
[Error: unknown template qotd]I don't listen to a massive amount of Elvis records these days but gosh, this really was a way harder choice than I thought it would be.

After a lot of deliberation I think I'm going to have to go with this one:

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Elvis' religious music is probably the part of his discography I'm the least familiar with, but that song really stands out for me.

For completion's sake I'll mention some runners-up, though:

- (Marie's the Name) His Latest Flame: So catchy and energetic, and I love that rhythm.
- We're Gonna Move: Maybe I'm influenced by how this song is a fun little interlude in an otherwise surprisingly dark movie, but I like it.
- Wooden heart: Even my mum, who's the biggest Elvis fan I know (and the reason I've been exposed to so much of it) teases me about loving this song. It's intensely cheesy but it's cute!
- Surrender: A bit pompous, but his vocal range is kind of fabulous in it. Also the thing his voice does in that "Won't you please surrender to me" at 1:18 gives me the kind of goosebumps I usually reserve for Bing Crosby records.
tilly_stratford: (Cat: Miyazaki handle with care)
I also watched Pink Floyd: The Wall, which was more or less exactly how I'd expected: Uneven student film with some good music and absolutely astounding animation.

Gerald Scarfe does some completely amazing stuff!

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tilly_stratford: (Default)
[Error: unknown template qotd]I was going to answer The Pogues' 'Fairytale of New York' because I've loved that song since I was ten, but then I realized I haven't really listened to it a lot this year. And I don't appreciate Christmas being this stagnant celebration where we always have to do everything just the way we did the year before (and year before that, etc. all the way back to childhood).

So I'm going to break the mold and say that this year, my favourite song for the holidays is this beautiful reinterpretation of a song I haven't really been very fond of before:

Little Drummer Boy by Linn & Marcus

Generally I like Christmas songs that stand out for some reason. That's why I enjoy 'Fairytale of New York', I like how refreshingly bitter it is.

Other songs I enjoy for their "otherness" include:

- 'I Saw Three Ships', the folksy Sufjan Stevens version, for making that grating repetitive melody listenable.
- 'Carol of the Bells' and that odd nervous energy it has.
- 'God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen' (particularly the Ella Fitzgerald version) because despite its message of "comfort and joy", it's always sounded vaguely baleful to me, not to mention being the only traditional Christmas song I know of that casually namedrops Satan in the first verse.
- 'En riktig jul' ("A right kind of Christmas") by the Real Group (though the version I'm posting here isn't as good as the one on their album), not only because I'm a sucker for a capella, but the entire song is about feeling vaguely angsty about how Christmas feels a little less magical for each year, and trying to counter that feeling by buying more things.
tilly_stratford: (Cat: Miyazaki handle with care)
Okay so Porco Rosso was cute and inventive like I expected it to be, but just not very satisfying from a storytelling perspective. It's probably my least favourite Hayao Miyazaki movie so far, but hey - the Ghibli animation alone was worth it. Not to mention the Roald Dahl reference!

I've been thinking how I wish I'd seen Miyazaki movies as a child, and whether I would have viewed them differently than I do now (I first saw Spirited Away when I was eighteen). They seem a bit more... edifying than a lot of Disney movies. There's always this important lesson about how looks can be deceiving, how it's more important to be helpful and brave rather than pretty. And the girl characters, I mean, they're always heroines rather than maidens to be rescued. I think when Tiny's due child is old enough I'll have to introduce her to Miyazaki movies.

- - -

Anyway, as I was looking for some early Miyazaki stuff I had the very rare experience of finding something unrelated and yet right up my alley - a lovely ballad sung by Yasuo Yamada (the late, original voice actor of Lupin III) and written by Yuji Ohno (a.k.a. "You" - the main composer of the Lupin franchise):

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With artwork obviously by Monkey Punch (the mangaka who created Lupin III) as well. Yet it's actually not a Lupin production, just some cash in side project, but the song is indeed very lovely. And sad. I might have had it on repeat for half an hour or so.
tilly_stratford: (Holmes: Curious collection)
The train journey went surprisingly smooth. I spent it listening to Janelle Monáe (who is my newest "rad female singers" discovery), and memorizing the Norwegian translated lyrics to Vysotsky's Нейтральная полоса (a.k.a 'No Man's Land'/'The Neutral Strip' - the one with the two captains picking flowers in the no man's land between their two zones). Maybe it'll come in handy some day, who knows.

Linni's been here in Bergen while I've been away, my good friend Maria's been stopping by giving her food and attention (though the latter wasn't very appreciated on the cat's side, after what Maria's been telling me). I expected Linni to give me the cold shoulder treatment once I got back, but once I'd put my bags aside she was all love and attention. She just can't stay mad, that cat. Though she does seem to have learned a new "pay attention to me NOW" kind of meow I don't think she used before.

Bergen seems to show itself from its best side now that I'm back though! There's sunny weather, I found some dirt cheap bread and carrots, and a stranger told me I've got "crazy funky" dreads. We conversed in English, "crazy funky" were the actual words she used. Awesome.
tilly_stratford: (Cat: relaxed)
I feel like making another batch of onigiris.

There's something extremely therapeutic about spending hours lavishing attention on a couple of handfuls of rice. Also I've been meaning to experiment with different fillings, and maybe for once I wouldn't eat them all up so fast, so I could try to fry some of them.

But that means I'm going to have to tidy up the kitchen.

Oh sigh. Oh woe.

Meanwhile, the radio feature on Spotify introduced me to folk singer-songwriter Laura Marling and I really think it's very lovely music:

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Not the sort of music I typically go for - I've always felt vaguely ashamed that no matter how I tried I could never get into Tori Amos' music (which I apparently am expected to, being an introvert with a vagina), but now I've got Ane Brun and Laura Marling, that's stereotypically feminine enough for me.
tilly_stratford: (Default)
Tiny and Morten are well on their way back to eastern Norway, while I'm slipping back into my Bergen lifestyle.

A handful of pictures from the last couple of days )

So speaking of my Bergen lifestyle - see, this is the first time since infancy that I'm not working on my formal education, where my day isn't spent on school work in some way. And for the last five years I've been extremely comfortable with the "student" label. Losing that, it's like I'm undergoing some sort of identity crisis. I mean, what other label do I get now? "Unemployed", I guess. I'm not at all comfortable with that one, so I'm going to have to fix that ASAP.

I'm a young, intelligent and educated person in the best of health, I've held a handful of interesting creative jobs (go into any major Norwegian bookshop and there's a real chance you'll find at least one product with my name on it), I'm very prepared to be an asset somewhere! My immediate challenge is to find out where I can be an asset, to find out who'll have me. I already know my degree in Medieval History isn't worth a thing, so at least that won't come as a shock.

Out into the world we go.
tilly_stratford: (Default)
When will I learn. When it's time to head over the mountains again I can never get any sleep. Tomorrow's the day; Only this time I'll make my second ever Oslo-Bergen trip by car, not train. Tiny and Morten have graciously offered to act as chauffeurs. Hopefully it'll be a little easier on Linni too.

So anyway, random insomnia thoughts: 'Imagine' by John Lennon.

Has there ever been a cover artist who've realized what it says? )

I'm really sleepy and I'm fairly certain I come across as a really obnoxious besserwisser about this, I'm sorry. Let me just state for the record that misinterpreted songs is one of my biggest pet peeves (like people who think Springsteen's 'Born in the USA' is a patriotic cheer, or that The Police's 'Every Breath You Take' is super romantic and not some kind of stalker anthem). Sure, pop songs are pop songs, but when it comes to 'Imagine' I see a trend where people cover it to give the impression of being very socially conscious and radical when everything else about them shows they are anything but.

[And I didn't mean to let any of this reflect badly on my Norwegian/Music/Religion teacher, because she was awesome.]
tilly_stratford: (Bogie)
Have a cold. Going through another insomnia phase. Drawing up a storm (smudged charcoal everywhere, will hopefully get my big self-indulgent fanarty project done in a month's time or so)

Overall, enjoying my vacation. Tiny and I watched another season and a half of The Wire (and then when I caught an episode of Boardwalk Empire on the telly I had a moment of "JESUS CHRIST THAT'S OMAR"). I'm currently at my mum's, going to accompany her to work today and possibly feel like I'm eight years old again (I remember my first introduction to computers at one of mum's jobs. Playing Snake and drawing in PorwerPoint for hours!).

Realized that even lounging in an empty house all day I don't feel even the tiniest inclination to turn on the TV. Though Get TV's ad-free radio channels are pretty great (There's nothing like illustrating a gun fight while listening to Johnny Cash. And then being violently pulled out of the mood when Neil Sedaka starts to play).

I can't think of a way to wrap up this entry, too groggy after only two hours of sleep.
tilly_stratford: (Cello in the rain)
One of the nice things about having impulsive, easygoing friends like Rune is that you might suddenly find yourself at a music festival you never knew existed, in a tiny Norwegian port town you'd only heard about in passing.

In short: On Thursday Rune messaged me asking if I wanted to come with him to the Stavern Festival, on Friday we drove for hours and spent a day attending concerts in lovely green surroundings in a bay. I haven't attended a lot of music festivals and this was by far the smallest I'd attended - only two stages, but lots of good artists.

We had an absolutely lovely time, only marred by the fact that it poured the entire day and there was no shelter or place to sit. We didn't mind too much the first couple of hours but there is a special kind of misery that comes from spending five or so hours completely soaked to the skin.

But we still hanged in there to catch every concert that day, and the artists were: )

But all in all, had a lovely time. Rune and I agreed that apart from the weather it had been a perfect day.
tilly_stratford: (Kaizer: Humping Terje)
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Humming is for cowards, my personal grooming routines are closely tied to loud singing. Particularly - for some odd reason - this:

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You can't know how happy I am that we met
I'm strangely attracted to you
There's someone I'm trying so hard to forget
Don't you wanna forget someone too?
Though sometimes I get the urge to do something a little more dramatic, and go for a suitably heart-rending performance of 'I'm Through With Love', in a sort of blend of Bing Crosby's version (complete with the intro verse), and of course the Marilyn Monroe version (though sadly lacking in being kissed by Tony Curtis in drag at the end).

I have an inkling my next-door neighbour is mighty sick of these two songs.
tilly_stratford: (ST: Relevant to my interests)
I was actually trying to locate some Cole Porter lyrics when I stumbled over an article about "cross-vocals" - when male singers perform songs written for female singers, or vise versa, without changing the pronouns. Apparently it was quite usual back in the day; In the twenties/thirties music publishers had such a hold on the rights to their tunes singers weren't allowed to change a single word.

Among the examples listed was a 1928 Bing Crosby rendition of a song called 'There Ain't No Sweet Man That's Worth The Salt of My Tears'. "Huh, I need to listen to this," I thought.


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Setting aside that Bing Crosby sings about those sweet sweet men for a moment, that song is absolutely wonderful. Let me count the ways:

- Twenty-five year old Bing Crosby (coming in at 1:17), who I love at any age but in his youth he had such a wonderful purity to his voice. Listen to him hit those high notes! Goosebumps!
- And twenty-five year old Bing Crosby of course means the rest of The Rhythm Boys, a.k.a. the best boyband in history! And when there's The Rhythm Boys, you know there's scat singing, awww yeah!
- Completely badass tympani solo at 2:30, immediately followed by Bix Beiderbecke, okay, playing a clarinet solo that's also of the "so good I could cry" variety. Take this however you will, but Bix is the only clarinet player I've ever bothered with memorizing the name of. Jazzgasm.

Excuse me, I'm going to listen to the Paul Whiteman Orchestra for the rest of my life now.
tilly_stratford: (Cello in the rain)
With my mother's combined love for Mikhail Baryshnikov's looks and Lionel Richie's music, by the time I was ten I'd watched the movie White Nights - gosh, I don't even know - many times. Never mind I didn't know anything about the Soviet Union or were even that proficient at reading subtitles at the time, so mostly I remember being terribly bored by all the dialogue but always looking forward to the dance numbers.

So tonight I decided to rewatch it, for the first time in twelve years, and for the first time with an understanding of what the plot was about.

Well the story is told in very broad strokes, Baryshnikov is a somewhat wooden actor, Gregory Hines is terribly good at crying, Helen Mirren is as always the classiest person around - and then I heard a piece of music that made me drop the piece of chocolate I was holding: Vysotsky!

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It wasn't a moment of "Go me, I recognized this foreign song" (Vladimir Vysotsky's Koni, usually known in English as 'Steadfasty horses', and which I often sing to myself in Swedish as 'Mina hästar'), it was a revelation.

You might know how Vysotsky's music is the world to me. When I first (!) heard it one cold autumn morning at the Academy I wrote in this journal that I knew how Dorian Gray felt at the beginning of the book when Lord Henry changes his entire worldview during one conversation. Of all the academic papers I've written, I don't think I've ever again researched with such gusto as when I wrote about the interpretation of subversive Vysotsky songs.

And then, turns out Vysotsky was part of my childhood and I never realized! A small part, granted, but perhaps it was the seed that would give me such joy in my adulthood.
tilly_stratford: (Astaire: Wry smile)


It's been years since I last was able to listen to that song and not sing along, I know every grunt and "no no". Appearantly I sing along without even noticing it. And every time I get to that part towards the end with "Gotta try, nah nah nah!" I can't stop myself from whipping my hair back and delivering that part with even more gusto.

Weird thing is, my irrepressible urge to act out that song like Redding came to me before I ever saw Pretty in Pink:

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Somehow I'd just made my own routine to that song independently.

When I first saw Pretty in Pink some years ago (there's no love lost between me John Hughes movies - except Ferris Bueller's Day Off, that's magnificent) I had a moment of "HOLY SHIT, THAT'S ME". (Though I'll echo a friend of mine and point out how horribly depressing it is to see Jon Cryer in Two and a Half Men, considering how great he was in the role of Duckie).

So anyway, that's the newest additon on the "let's just enjoy this song in private because it inevitably make me act like a fool" list. If you're curious, other songs on that list includes The Rolling Stone's 'Paint it black' (Mick Jagger-dancing should be an olympic discipline), Oingo Boingo's 'Violent love', Harry Belafonte's 'Jump in the line', Tom Jones' 'Chills and fever' (though I don't have that... range in the pelvic department) and Di Derre's 'Vampyren' (it was the only video with the song I could find okay).

I can't be the only one who still energetically performs songs when I'm alone like I'm an eight-yearold singing into a hairbrush, am I?

Am I?


tilly_stratford: (Default)

March 2015



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