Nothing Sweet About Me: Gabriella Cilmi’s enthralling presence

I’d watched this video a few dozen times before learning that Cilmi was just 17 when it was produced. Oh, my, God! A Nabokovian nymph leaving a wake of men so enthralled they hardly notice or care for their sad state of bondage. Uhhhhmmm….

Excuse me….. I seem to be at a loss for words… …must… …watch… …video………again………….
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Gabriella Cilmi: Lessons to be learned and feel a little safer

Gary (my blog partner when we began this blog together) says he’s having some trouble finding Australian music worthy of positive reviews, especially anything produced in the present or recent past. Hmmm… how about this young, little gem?

Gabriella Cilmi (pronounced “chill me” — and she does give me chills) was all of 17 years old when she co-wrote and recorded this song and others on her debut album, Lessons to be Learned. This is no Avril Lavigne, or Miley Cyrus, or Britney Spears. Cilmi has a soul of the ancients, and a deep, resonant voice that sees into the heart of the matter at hand. There’s another vid I’ll post which reveals a presence well beyond her years. But back to this song.
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Tijuana Cartel: dancing to the key of coast

Tijuana Cartel epitomises for me what locals of Queensland’s Sunshine Coast refer to as the Coast lifestyle. An easygoing presence that knows how to have a heckuva lot of fun, more than a little passion and a spiritual base from which all that energy exudes. TC features Paul George’s virtuouso classically latin-inflected acoustic guitar work driven to dance-insanity by Daniel Gonzalez‘ blazing percussion. Carey O’Sullivan runs the keys around the crazy beats and melodies while Regan Hoskins spins discs to make the melange of latin passion and dance club rhythms stew on high boil. Frequent guest performers include DJ Freddie FlyFingaz, Trumpet Player Shannon Van Horn and Adam Dann on Djembe & Darabukka.
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I Can See Your House From Here. It’s made of Ice, and there’s a Camel parked outside.

I first heard this song on campus radio late one night in 1979 at Rochester Institute of Technology, where I was studying photography and living the Art House residence hall. In the next room — good buddy Steve “The Rockin’ Guru” Guy. It was my first year in school, my first year away from home, and a year of musical expansion and discovery like no other, thanks in no small part to the Guru next door. After taping the radio broadcast, I brought it over to Steve. One of the very few great pieces of music I got to before my musical guru all that first year.

Ice remains one of my favourite pieces of music and it’s seen me through a number of life transitions. As a result, it’s come to be associated with some of the more significant, often heart-wrenching moments of my life. There’s even an idea for a musical interlude in a film, a film which has never gotten much bigger than the interlude itself. But I sometimes play that out as I listen. Someday, there will be a film.
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Gatekeeper: My introduction to Feist

A while back I ran across the image below, The Gate Keeper, which made me think of a song of the same name, by Feist. It’s the first song of hers that I was able to put her name to, though I’m sure I’d heard her music before, and I already knew she often appeared wiith a Toronto music ‘collective’ going by the name of Broken Social Scene. It’s a pretty little song, and the live performance in the video below jazzes up the folksy melody of the studio original.

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Robert McNamara’s Fog of War

Among the best documentaries ever made, Errol Morris’ The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara, compellingly examines Robert Strange McNamara’s disturbing look back at the 20th Century’s greatest global conflicts: World War II and the Cold War. The result is a chilling set of lessons he learned in his tenure as Secretary of Defence under JFK and Johnson during the Vietnam War, and his duty analysing the effectiveness of Allied bombing during the second world war.

This is a document of my childhood. The Kennedy administration defined the era into which I was born. These were men who served in World War II and remained both giddy with war and horrified by it. Theirs was a world view that saw nations locked in lethal conflict, who codified a policy of Mutually Aussured Destruction — literally, MAD. And just how mad, how desperately close we all came to experience such cataclysmic destruction, McNamara tells of meeting Castro years after the Cuban Missile Crisis. He asked him three questions: Did you know there were already nuclear missiles on Cuba when the crisis began? Would you have recommended that Kruschev launch them if the US attacked? What do you think would have happened to Cuba if they were launched.

Castro’s answers are chilling to consider: Yes, I knew. I did recommend Kruschev launch them. We would have been utterly destroyed.

That may be the most startling revelation in a film overflowing with them, insights from an inside perspective during pivotally crucial moments in history. The bombing of Japan during World War II. The Cuban Missile Crisis. The Cold War and Detente. The war in Vietnam. McNamara was not just there. He was an architect of policy.

McNamara knows how to tell a story. I believe he could make taking out the garbage seem like an epic task. This is a man taking a long hard look back at his life and thinking, “my God, what have I done.? How close we were to annihilation! And for what? We were wrong about so many things! But thank God, too, that we got it just right enough.” Just, but just barely.

Meanwhile, the film’s director, Errol Morris (The Thin Blue Line and A Brief History of Time), has crafted an intense cinematic experience both visually and aurally, with the aid of Philip Glass’s soundtrack and McNamara’s gravelly voice. There’s always something a little eerie and unsettling in Glass’s music and here the affect is like a hive of bees worrying at the beekeeper’s netting — will they get in?

The world has become another place since then. The immortal battle between equally powerful nations ended, abruptly, just half a decade after Orwell’s year came to pass. With luck, we’ll never return to that kind of madness. Unfortunately, we appear to have flopped into the fire. Perhaps we’ll come through this moment in time too, a little wiser, a little less clever and mean-spirited. A little chagrined at the outcomes of our best laid plans. A film like this is less important as a document of what has happened than it is a cautionary tale about what occurred within governments at crucial moments in history without public knowledge. Or about what is happening even now?

I wonder if Donald Rumsfeld will someday place himself in front of just such a lens?

Secret Heart: Feist Covers Sexsmith LIVE

Some weeks ago I watched a documentary about a piano prodigy. In his young teens, the boy spoke about music with a profound wisdom. One thing he said, in particular, stayed with me. I’m paraphrasing, but it went something like:

“The more you work with a piece of music, the more you find in it. Some people work with a piece long enough, with enough diligence, that they come to know the music better than the composer, find things in the music the composer didn’t realize were there.”

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My Muse, My Moon oh Man: Feist

This song’s been running around in my mind the last 24 hours. I’ve been thinking about the name for this site, thinking we’re not likely going to be able to keep Muse, since there’s already a magazine published under that name. So a variation’s been playing out in my thoughts, My Muse. And, as I often do, the thought running around in my head has become associated with this song which, in my mind’s ear, is now My Muse, My Man.

You can hear it, right?

But it occurs to me now that it’s a full moon day, so the song’s doubly appropriate.
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Rainy Days and Mondays: Karen Carpenter’s effervescense

It’s yet another wet, gloomy day here on the Wet Coast, and a friend of mine mentioned that the rainy days depress her. This song came immediately to mind…

Growing up I was never much of a pop music fan, particularly the easy listening stuff my parents favoured. As a family we’d spend a lot of time in the car together with the radio tuned to whatever station might be playing Andy Williams or Perry Como, Englebert Humperdink or some other music-lite. Much as I loved going on drives around the countryside (and still do) the music drove me crazy.
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Fugitive Peace

I watched the film adaptation of Anne Michaels’ novel, Fugitive Pieces today. One of the most achingly beautiful love scenes I’ve ever seen is followed, closely, by Michaela picking up Jakob’s journal, holding it, looking at it, quizzically, curiously. she seems to be asking of it, “what else might you reveal of the man I love?” Jakob is watching her.

“Read it,” he says.

“Are you sure?”
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