Archive for November, 2006

covers covers covers

I love me a good cover version, and this post from Torontoist yielded the following gems.

Straight Up – Dave Werner (c0vering Paula Abdul)
Ok, I’ll come clean, I totally dug Paula Abdul in the late 80s, as did the rest of you. Dave Werner’s acoustic cover of “Straight Up” makes perfect sense, palm-mutings and all. I really like this trend of non-ironic pop song covers, a good example of which is Ted Leo’s cover of Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone”.

Peach Plum Pear – Final Fantasy (covering Joanna Newsom)
Owen Pallett is quite the musical genius, especially live, creating fantastic string arrangements on the fly. I originally thought Joanna Newsom covered him with “Peach Plum Pear”, mostly because I always preferred his version. He’s also got an incredible live cover of Bloc Party’s “This Modern Love” that makes an appearance on my iPod quite often. Willy, can you spot the effects?

Hallelujah – k.d. lang (covering Leonard Cohen)
The late Jeff Buckley’s cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” will forever be the definitive version of the song, but k.d. lang comes so so very close. I guess she loses out because she doesn’t come with the added pathos of being dead, which is probably a good thing. Here she’s at complete ease, make-up free and barefoot, and she absolutely kills. I’m still getting chills.

Patience – Take That

My guilty pleasure from the 90s are back, and they’re back at #1 in fact. And I still can’t tell Jason Orange and Howard Donald apart, probably cos they both look like they’re from the Superfurryanimals.

47 Down 5 Left (52 Books, 52 Weeks)

Set vaguely in the near future (but written in 1979), Tales of Pirx the Pilot concerns the spacefaring Pirx, who is probably as far from the astronaut archetype as is humanly possible. Constantly second-guessing himself but possessed of an alarmingly accurate intuition, a bit of a prankster, though more like a bumbler, Pirx is put through a series of weird adventures where things seem to go mysteriously wrong – from insect-infested space capsules to ancient possessed robots – but he always manages to solve the problem even if he hasn’t really got “the right stuff”.

Much of the narration takes place in Pirx’s head as he stumbles around trying to work things out, giving the book a heavy psychological bent, as is typical with Stanislaw Lem. Given an intimate view into his metacognitive musings, Pirx’s development is genuinely believable even as he is put through the most fantastic of situations, gradually revealing his evolution from an awkward, ill-prepared cadet to a relatively salty ship’s captain who could almost be considered wise.

Lem has managed a weird trick with this novel – setting a detective novel in space, led by a disarmingly human protaganist, somehow creating something that is simultaneously fantastic and mundane. I’m still unsure what Lem’s trying to say with Tales of Pirx the Pilot but I have to say it’s been a strange but oddly satisfying read.

Tales of Pirx the Pilot
(ISBN No: 0380556650) Check NLB Catalogue for item availability.

My next book will be Nosferatu in Love by Jim Shepard.

Jackass: Rube Goldberg

tagged: Science Fiction Book Club Meme

I’ve been tagged by Ivan with a pretty fun meme, though my sci-fi geek cred is at stake.

Instructions:

“Below is a Science Fiction Book Club list most significant SF novels between 1953-2006. The meme part of this works like so: Bold the ones you have read, strike through the ones you read and hated, italicize those you started but never finished and put a star* next to the ones you love.”

Here we go:

1. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
2. The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov
3. Dune, Frank Herbert
4. Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein
5. A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin
6. Neuromancer, William Gibson*
7. Childhood’s End, Arthur C. Clarke
8. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick
9. The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
10. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
11. The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe
12. A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr.
13. The Caves of Steel, Isaac Asimov
14. Children of the Atom, Wilmar Shiras
15. Cities in Flight, James Blish
16. The Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett*
17. Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison
18. Deathbird Stories, Harlan Ellison
19. The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester
20. Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany
21. Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey
22. Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card
23. The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Stephen R. Donaldson
24. The Forever War, Joe Haldeman
25. Gateway, Frederik Pohl
26. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J.K. Rowling
27. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
28. I Am Legend, Richard Matheson
29. Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice
30. The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin
31. Little, Big, John Crowley
32. Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny*
33. The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick*
34. Mission of Gravity, Hal Clement
35. More Than Human, Theodore Sturgeon
36. The Rediscovery of Man, Cordwainer Smith
37. On the Beach, Nevil Shute
38. Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke*
39. Ringworld, Larry Niven
40. Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys
41. The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien
42. Slaughterhouse-5, Kurt Vonnegut*
43. Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson
44. Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner
45. The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester
46. Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein
47. Stormbringer, Michael Moorcock
48. The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks
49. Timescape, Gregory Benford
50. To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Philip Jose Farmer

So that’s a measley 15 out of 50, bleah. A lot of books I’ve always wanted to read but never got around to, like Ender’s Game, the Foundation series, I Am Legend and Snow Crash. But quite excited though, got my reading list cut out for next year now.

Maps – Yeah Yeah Yeahs

My iTunes threw this song up at random, so I decided to dig up the videos on youtube.

I started off being a little afraid of Karen O, what with her crazy leg-breaking antics live, but then I saw her crying in this video and immediately fell madly in love with her. I’m still pretty scared of her though. Cos she’s freaking Karen O, man, she’s not afraid of you and will kick your ass.

As expected, the acoustic version emphasises the sheer prettiness of the song. That said, what makes the song is really the drums, so I still prefer the studio version. Karen O’s subdued performance is different here and that goofy hearts top is freaking adorable.

MTV Music Awards are usually less rock-centric these days, and I remember this performance as one of the more recent ones that I really really enjoyed. The giant garden and soft focus combined with Karen O’s demented elf performance really coalesce to make this pretty damn perfect.

I’ve always been obsessed with finding the perfect pop song, and Maps is as close to that as I’ve heard in a long, long time. Warren Ellis puts it best though,

But “Maps”: “Wait. They don’t love you like I love you.” If that doesn’t knock you flat, you’re already dead.

46 Down 6 Left (52 Books, 52 Weeks)

I had a whole pop culture as religion essay planned out in my review for this but I just handed in my final assignment for the year this morning and I’m really not keen on writing another even remotely academic word – my finger muscles are complaining as I type this.

So the book’s about a trio of Elvis impersonators in the Philippines who pretty much rock the house every night and have got loads of fans, especially the guy who plays Biggest Elvis (post ’68 Comeback). All you really need to know is that the story’s freaking awesome and it’s all about destiny, faith and cultural imperialism. Argh, my fingers!!

Biggest Elvis
(ISBN No: 0140258116) Check NLB Catalogue for item availability.

My next book will be Tales of Pirx the Pilot by Stanislaw Lem.


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