Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Miscellany: Four Items


The author will attempt to expunge from his mind, clearinghouse-style, a variety of topics which have been circulating but which, for reasons ranging from sloth to genuine time-consuming industry, he has yet to address in posts on this blog.

i) Books on Tape
ii) Caribou, Andorra
iii) “Radio Nowhere”
iv) That Nissan Commercial

It is not expected that a coherent conclusion will be reached, but rather a series of observations leading inevitably to a sense of What was the point? being aroused in the reader. But the author will feel better for the effort.

i) Books on Tape

I suppose that without thinking much about it I had long harboured the belief that books on tape were the exclusive dominion of long-haul truck drivers and the elderly and poor-of-sight. My one shining moment of inclusiveness came a number of years ago when my local library had a well-loved copy of the audiocassette version of Don Delillo’s Underworld as read by estimable character actor Dennis Boutsikaris (you know him even if you don’t know you know him), and I fell into the pleasing routine of having Misters Delillo and Boutsikaris escort me to and from work (it was a 30 minute commute, but this being Underworld, the routine lasted several weeks). But that experience aside, I have tended to hew close to those original prejudices.

But a few weeks back, my wife discovered eAudioBooks made available through the website of that same library, and began to download some of her favourites. I was intrigued. And then an email arrived from eMusic. “We have audiobooks,” it said, “You should try them” (or words to that effect, with bright and flashing images to punch up the message). Unencumbered by a physical body, these digital readings are very appealing. Load them on the MP3 player and carry them everywhere. Perfect.

Mind you, I sampled a few before the appeal really took hold. I am wary of the experience in some cases because, for example, do I really want to hear Brad Pitt’s voice in my head every time I read Cormac McCarthy? The answer is no, no I don’t.

But Alan Cumming reading Michael Ondaatje? That I can get behind. And thus have I gone to bed for several days now with Anil’s Ghost in my ears.

ii) Caribou, Andorra

Caribou – formerly Manitoba, legally Dan Snaith – has made a great record. It’s a pop record, but pop with its prefixes (psych- and synth-) in perfect proportion. It’s like the first 25 seconds of “Caring is Creepy” crossbred with the Human League. Or the Zombies making eyes at Depeche Mode. Or the Strawberry Alarm Clock slipping something in Gary Numan’s drink. Give it the chance and it’ll provide the soundtrack to a childhood you never actually had, a perpetual Californian Saturday afternoon, the lawn pocked by warm shimmery bubbles of sunlight pouring through oak trees, your bike in perfect working order, Adidas shorts snug, hightops loosely laced, lying on your back and feeling the earth spin beneath you.

iii) “Radio Nowhere”

The former Miss Imperial describes Springsteen’s new single as “like Catherine Wheel, only, um, older,” and for that I blame Brendan O’Brien, whose production has made an unnecessarily crunchy and stringy mess of many of the Boss’s recent projects. Has he done the same for the as-yet unreleased Magic? Maybe so, but the song underlying the production is, in this case, prime third-act Bruce, catchy and solemn and yet life-affirming. Quick to remind you that, brother, it ain’t no sin to be glad you’re alive.

iv) That Nissan commercial

Finally: I really love that Nissan commercial (inasmuch as any person can truly love a television commercial for a car) with the time lapse shot of the boy staring in the window of the Datsun, which morphs into a Nissan as the boy grows and the city around him grows and changes (alas, youtube and iFilm couldn't help me provide the video). I’m particularly drawn to the music (which is kind of Caribou-like, now that I think about it). Anybody who can help me out and tell me what it is will be hereafter and in perpetuity considered my fact-checking cuz.

1 comment:

Miss Imperial said...

Dennis Boutzikaris! THAT guy! He's always on Law & Order. He is "that guy who plays the Ron Silver-y characters but is not actually Ron Silver." THAT guy!

Anyway, Alan Cumming reading anything sounds great.

Also, too bad about the absence of that Nissan spot online. I am curious!

And one more thing: I regret describing that Springsteen song as "Catherine Wheel"-ish. It's slick, to be sure, but it actually reminds me of another college-rocking artist...can't place it, though.