Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What's this!? What's this?!

If you are only going to buy one special edition box set DVD, CD, book collection set this Christmas season, my suggestion is The Danny Elfman and Tim Burton 25th Anniversary Music Box.

This little trinket may set you back $500 or so but can you really put a price on 19 hours of film soundtrack, including 7 hours of never before released music? Warner Brothers thinks you can. And I mean after all these guys need to eat.

If you are going to be like me and simply drool over the collection, let me give you you a heads up on what to expect: Sixteen CD's of music from film collaborations of the two artists including Big Fish, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Edward Scissor hands, and to name some of my favorites, along with a bonus DVD of Elfman and Burton discussing their years of working together. There is a 250 page hardback with glossy illustrations and line notes. A skeleton key flash drive, preloaded with all the music files.

And if you are still unsure, the box itself is a working Zoetrope. NBD.

Its pretty much effin' awesome. As Jack Skeleton once said, "I want it! oh! I want it! I want it for my own!"

Monday, November 29, 2010

Lighten Up

When Carolyn has made the trek from New England to the Mid Atlantic states she is going to want to relax in her humble abode. My suggestion to her is to light up.
No nothing illegal... we're not that kind of blog! Light a candle, a Voluspa candle!

Voluspa Candles are quite posh and a bit on the pricey side, but the fragrances are really lovely. So somewhere in between burning that Yankee candle you bought from your kid brother's school fundraiser or the incense you found in the Haight, you may want to try Voluspa.

The fragrances are, like I said, beautiful. My favorite is French Cade and Lavendar!

The design aesthetic is pretty cool too!

According the their website, Voluspa is the Celtic goddess of Wisdom. My own research tells me the goddess is actually of Nordic origin. I think maybe they were attracted to the -spa at the end of the name!

The company is actually based in Lake Forest, the next town over from me actually. Even though their candles and cause don't necessarily promote ecofriendliness (a la soy or bees wax) it seems they stay away from chemicals as they are a "luxury candle."

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Brittaney Recently Finished {The Prospector by J.M.G. Le Clezio}

The Prospector, or in French, Le Chercheur d'or, meaning "The Finder," is a beautifully crafted telling of one man's life long quest to find what he has lost.

Alexis L'Etang is the narrator and has a Homer-esque quality of calling his listeners to the adventure. Without giving you too much, Alexis and his family lose everything when a massive tropical storm devastates their home in the French Caribbean. Destitute, Alexis's fathers dies a broken man leaving his only son maps and clues to a lost treasure buried somewhere on a remote and exotic island. Alexis, believing he can restore his surving mother and sister to a life of comfort and ease begins his search, facing rough seas, curious pirates, island natives, and The First World War.

Considered one of the most prolific modern writers of France, the author JMG Le Clezio unfolds a tale of not only this individuals quest for treasure, but the changes that occur in him while on this adventure.

One of my favorite parts about this read was the effect of the pacing. The narration works almost as a metronome, allowing the reader to feel the drama of a workers revolt one chapter, the sedation of a night on a starry beach in another, and the jarring and unpredictable life of trench warfare. I also appreciated the change of diction in the work. Alexis' patterns are subtly shifted from the thought processes of a young boy to man searching for meaning. Both have complex and emotional lives, but are manifested and expressed in different ways. Alexis as a child describes the freedom of escaping in fields of sugar cane only to return to the warm arms of his mother, while Alexis the man recognizes his physical and mental escape from the trials of his world on the open seas finding comfort in himself and his mission. The final chapters of the book, Alexis' language is wistful and reflective, as he has come to the end of his journey.

The theme of freedom is woven throughout the novel, along with an examination of being overly pessimistic versus realistic. Interesting ideas for discussion, for sure!

Something that was pointed out to me was that this is the second in my project to read (at least one) the works of every Nobel Prize winning author to date. Most of the authors have clear political agendas and my first read, Land of the Green Plums, held up this idea. This novel I feel was more about the work of the prose and the story rather than any political comment. It may be in fact that this novel was less politically charged than previous works by Le Clezio, and I do intend to return to this author one day. I may then have to revise my thoughts on this.

I would recommend this book, though only if I knew you liked the adventure genre. It's a great read- moving surprising quickly even though it's 400 pages, and I did find parts of it very touching. You'll have to let me know what you think!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Folk Music Friday: Hello Saferide

HAPPY THANKSGIVING! And lets give thanks that a) there is music to be appreciated in the world and b)I, yes Brittaney after allegedly falling off the Earth, am writing a new post!
I present to you: HELLO SAFERIDE.
Hailing from Stockholm, Sweden, Hello Saferide, is my new European listening obsession!
Here's a fun fact: the name comes from inspired by an intelligent bus driver in a drug-addicted small town, identified as Willimantic, Connecticut. We probably went to the safe Co-op market! If I'd only known....
Anyway, Hello Saferide has a fun, indie sound, coupled with effective and thoughtful storytelling. I admire that in music because if you didn't know I'm really more of a lyrics girl myself (sight Ingrid Michaelson, showtunes, y'know....) What attracts you to new music?
Here is a great example of HS's proclivity to spin a yarn.

Much like an Iron & Wine, or A Fine Frenzy, the "band" Hello Saferide is dominated by the front woman Annika Norlin. She provides almost all the vocals, lyrics, and some guitar work, but is backed by a fun and creative crew of Swedes. Still, its mostly Annika.

I will come clean, I currently only listen to Annika and the gang on Pandora or thier MySpace page. I'm waiting for my birthday to roll around to buy at least on of their to English albums (Introducing... and More Modern Short Stories). But then my birthday list has grown quite long with all the amazing find Carolyn posts here!

As we stare down the pike at the Holiday season, hopefully Hello Saferide can provide a respite from festive tunes. As much as I love them, too much of a good thing, like thanksgiving feasts, can leave you feeling overwhelmed and numb. Rejuvenate with a nice Swedish message to the ears and enjoy!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Carolyn Recently Finished {The Sheltering Sky}:

The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles {1949} is one of the best books I have read in awhile. I couldn't put it down -well, except for those 2 weeks when I was being lazy about everything. There's simply so much to discuss about the characters and the setting {I'm convinced they are all metaphors for something or other}, but I don't want to give too much away.

Essentially, this book follows three characters as they explore Algeria & it's desert. The two main characters -Port & Kit - are married, but their marriage is strained. It seemed to me that this was because of Kit's anxiety about everything -making her keep her thoughts to herself, which pushed Port further from her because he wanted to talk about the meaning of everything and all manner of existential malarkey. The third character Tunner was probably my favorite, or at least the one I related to the most/provided comic relief. He was a third wheel, a tag-along - a friend from back home who took a passing comment of: "you should totally come with us!" as something to seriously consider. Kit relies on Tunner a bit, in my opinion, for emotional attachment or support that she felt she couldn't get from Port. Their adventures start by seeking a location that was untouched by WWII -why Northern Africa, I'm not sure since it doesn't really fit the bill - and then being disburbed or curious or humored by the lack of creature comforts available in these poor, remote desert towns in the Sahara.

After unfortunate meetings with some French colonizers and a mother-son duo of English travel writers and an illness gone wrong the story takes an interesting turn -things I never thought would happen did and this is where I'll keep mum about the details and where I would be more than happy to discuss them with anyone who has read the book or in a little bit after someone else finishes. Kit finds herself alone & I don't think she quite knows what to do with herself -to say she goes off the deep end is an understatement!

Usually, I don't care for books with unresolved endings, but this one is beyond perfect. It fits so well & I almost didn't want to hear more towards the end because I was satisfied with what I thought the characters had learned.

The writing is absolutely wonderful. Not too flowery, but just enough to perfectly describe the landscape. I also appreciated the inclusion of French & Arabic in the dialogue -trying to be authentic & less of an imposition of Western values on another culture (which is a sub-theme of the story, so the writing fits in perfectly).

About the Author

Paul Bowles was born in New York City in 1910. He was educated at the University of Virginia & studied music with Aaron Copland. The Sheltering Sky was his first publication - he first visited Northern Africa in 1931. He eventually moved to Tangier, Morocco with his wife, Jane, is 1947. He stayed here until his death in 1999. He is usually put into the category of Beatnik writers, such as Ginsburg, Kerouac and Burroughs.

Favorite Quotes from Selection
  • "Under his gaze she felt like a badly behaved child. 'Pardon, monsieur,' she said, trying to bend out of the way in order to avoid the growing pressure from behind. It was useless; she was impelled forward in spite of all her efforts, and staggering over the prostrate forms and the piles of objects, she moved into the middle of the car. The train lurched into motion. She glanced around a little fearfully. The idea occurred to her that these were Moslems, and that the odor of alcohol on her breath would scandalize them almost as much as if she were suddenly to remove all her clothing." {page 76}
  • "'Why don't you extend your good wishes to all humanity, while you're at it?' she demanded. 'Humanity?' cried Port. 'What's that? Who is humanity? I'll tell you. Humanity is everyone but one's self. So of what interest can it possibly be to anybody? 'Tunner said slowly: "Wait a minute. Wait a minute. I'd like to take issue with you on that. I'd say humanity is you, and that's just what makes it interesting.' 'Good, Tunner!' cried Kit.'Port was annoyed. 'What rot!' he snapped. 'You're never humanity; you're only your own poor hopelessly isolated self.' Kit tried to interrupt. He raised his voice and went on. 'I don't have to justify my existence by any such primitive means. The fact that I breathe is my justification. If humanity doesn't consider that a justification, it can do what it likes to me. I'm not going to carry a passport to existence around with me, to prove I have a right to be here! I'm here! I'm in the world! But my world's not humanity's world. It's the world as I see it.'" {page 89}
  • "Doubtless no complete sentences would pass between them because neither one would be able to understand enough of the other's language. He began trying to recall his English: 'Sir, I must to you, to pray that you will -' 'My dear sir, please I would make to you remark -' Then he remembered having heard that Americans did not speak English in any case, that they had a patois which only they could understand among themselves." {page 148}
  • "There was nothing to do but refuse to be sick, once one was this far away from the world" {page 176}
  • "Outside in the dust was the disorder of Africa, but for the first time without any visible sign of European influence, so that the scene had a purity which had been lacking in the other towns, an unexpected quality of being complete which dissipated the feeling of chaos." {page 181}
  • "Someone once had said to her that the sky hides the night behind it, shelters the person beneath from the horror that lies above." {page 306}
  • "There's something repulsive about an American without money in his pocket" {page 308}


The Sheltering Sky {1990} directed by Bernardo Bertolucci & starring Debra Winger & John Malkovich, among others. The film was nominated for Best Director of a Motion Picture for the 1991 Golden Globes. I personally have not seen this, but it is available instantly on Netflix {FYI}, so I'm thinking this weekend.

My North African travels {2009}

After graduating from college I planned on a month long adventure to Morocco, which I had been working my butt off to finance for a year or so. I would be going with Nate (visit music blog here). Unfortunately, certain terrible family situations required me to cut my trip a little short {which I don't regret in in the least - family comes first!}. Anyways, it was a wild adventure to say the least! I had never been to Africa or a Muslim country before and was a little nervous on how to dress/act/etc - some travel literature even suggested I pretend I was married because certain hotels or whatever would refuse admittance to non-married couples. This never occurred, but to say I was uncomfortable with the ogling & other various forms of visual sexual harassment is an understatement -& I was covered! I just wanted to list a few places we visited with some photos, but I would be more than happy to expand my thoughts further if anyone is thinking about taking a Morocco-land adventure -which I would totally recommend it's a beautiful country & the food is yummy & it's definitely an adventure!

We landed in Casablanca and stayed for a day. There was not much here besides the Hassan II Mosque. I found the city dirty & scary & totally overwhelming. Next we moved to Meknes, which was a lovely smaller city -very enjoyable. We also took a day trip from here to Volubilis - some extensive Roman ruins that are also a World Heritage Site. After a few days we moved on to Fes - my absolute least favorite place I have probably ever been! I have never been harassed more in my life - I was uncomfortable the entire time, but on the upside we stayed at the best hostel with the nicest host {so if you're going please ask me for more information because you shouldn't waste your time anywhere else in the city}. After way too long in Fes we traveled to Chefchaouen -probably my favorite or at least in my top two of places we visited. It is a very small mountain town and everything looks like little blue hobbit/iceberg houses! Next, we unexpectedly took a break in Spain {another country I had never been before} - we took the ferry over and made our way to Sevilla & spent 2 days. After Spain, we returned to Morocco & spent our last few days in Asilah - a gorgeous little fishing village, which is probably tied for the top two favorites spots with Chefchaouen. Oh, I should mention that going in & out of the country we caught the ferry & landed in Tangier -another place I would recommend avoiding, my 30 minutes were more than I could handle. We had plans to travel to Marrakech & Essaouira in the south, but - next time!!

The following photos are mine, so just let me know if you want to use them!








Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Andre Edouard Marty

I have a book review for you all, but before I can get to that let's all enjoy the illustrations of Andre Edouard Marty. He was born in Paris in 1882 and worked in the Art Deco style -many of his illustrations were used by the London Underground, some of which can be seen/purchased here.

{Where runs the River?, 1931}

{Children's parties, 1931}

{Come, on wings of joy, 1931}

{Bushy Park; Chestnut Sunday, 1933}

{Wimbledon tennis, 1933}

{Bluebell time,1933}

Friday, November 12, 2010

MUSIC: Folk Friday {Mail the Horse}

New band centered in Brooklyn. No videos to post yet, so listen here. It's worth it, I promise!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Placemats & Coasters

Want. I'm sort of digging the yellow seahorses... What's your favorite swatch/pattern? View.

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