Sunday, January 27, 2008

Snow Day Chronicles: Two of My Favourite Things

As I watch the sky wildly falling outside in yet another one of those Canadian white-out blizzards, all I can think about are the simple comforts like a Bailey's and coffee, a bowl of hot chili, and a cozy fire..that is, if I had a fireplace of course. So since I can't invite you all over for a round of hot cocoa and a pot of stick-to-your-ribs chili, let me give you the next best thing--a book and an album you can depend on during your own lazy Sunday....

With one of the most convincing and multi-faceted characters that I have encountered in a long time, Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is an intertextual journey which successfully balances its many hats: a whodunit Mystery a la Sherlock Holmes (hence its title), an existential commentary, and a creative coming-of-age. Haddon does so, in such a way that, a) you won't put the damn book down until you've finished reading it, and b) you'll simultaneously laugh, cry, and ponder how prime numbers actually relate to life.

The story is actually a book within a book, written from the point of view of 15 year-old Christopher John Francis Boone--a mathematical prodigy that can mentally calculate 2 to the power of 25 (answer: 33,554,432), hates the colour yellow but loves the colour red, and was born without the ability to understand human emotion, all hallmarks of his autistic savant. When Christopher discovers that his neighbour's dog has died under extremely suspicious circumstances, he makes it his personal mission to find the supposed culprit. Without dropping any more spoilers, let's just say that despite the underdevelopment of Christopher's social intuition, you still get a fascinating window into his insightful views on life as he reveals a profound humanity behind those mathematical equations and scientific theories that somehow govern the laws of the universe.

Assuming that Radiohead does not need much of an intro, I'll just tell you straight-up--I'm completely addicted to their latest album, In Rainbows (single-disc release). While the actual merits of the record could have been lost in the hype of the band's "download-by-donation" marketing campaign, it obviously stood its ground because let's face it, it's a damn good album!

Unable to deny my penchant for cheesy analogies, I have to say that In Rainbows is like the musical equivalent of Momma's homemade apple pie: well-crafted and hugely satisfying. The album echoes the same pop rock fabric reminiscent of Radiohead's critically-acclaimed OK Computer, a sound the band consciously meandered away from in the form of surrealistic electronic rock by way of their 2000 release of Kid A and Amnesiac, which they put out the following year. As usual, Thom Yorke's characteristic falsetto and spot-on tone gives each song its Radiohead signature, however, In Rainbows equally showcases the extraordinary musicianship of multi-instrumentalist bros, Jonny (lead guitar) and Colin (bass) Greenwood, and Phil Selway's solid percussions.

While the band replaces their desire for innovation with that of listenability, their 7th album is anything but simple. "15 Steps" intricately layers a complex jungle-like drumbeat with an ultra smooth guitar progression, "Nude" is a dream-like lullaby in which Thom's wistful vocals say it all, and "Jigsaw Falling into Place" is beautifully crafted as that special chemistry shared by Thom, Jonny, Colin, and Phil takes the song to a perfect climax.

Needless to say, I'm probably going to crank-up In Rainbows on the old stereo, free pour some Bailey's into my coffee, and curl-up on the couch as I watch the dizzying flurries touch down outside my window.

"15 Steps" (Scotch Mist Version)


ZenDenizen said...

The first time I ever even heard a Radiohead song was when Creep was featured in Happily Ever After (the French movie).

--Bamboo Blitz-- said...

Hey zen, yeah I was listening to Creep just the other day and it really brought up some good memories that are totally frozen in time...I haven't seen the movie you mentioned but I'll make sure to add it to my to-watch list.

karloff said...

I'm really enjoying the new radiohead album, but what I really want right now is some of that chili.

BURAOT said...

gee.. thanks. i hope i can find that book in the airport. i'll be travelling to vancouver next week and i definitely need a good book.

where are you in canada by the way? gee.. and i had to go there in the middle of winter... haaayyy.

--Bamboo Blitz-- said...

karloff...mmmm...I can go for some chili too--I like mine extra spicy!

--Bamboo Blitz-- said..., you're going to rough it in Canada during the deadliest winter ever...hehe! Just joking, Van shouldn't be too bad. You should definitely try and find that book if you can--definitely a worthwhile read. As for where I live, I permanently reside in Victoria, but I've been in Edmonton temporarily spending time with family.

BURAOT said...

gee.. maybe i'll just go as far as POrtland na lang kaya. lols1

anyhoo, i was just in Victoria last year when i did my 1st road trip. sarap jan. i loved the gardens.

--Bamboo Blitz-- said...

ha ha! Maybe you wouldn't freeze too much in Portland! Yes, maganda na nakatira sa Victoria....

Rob Scott said...

Hey Bamboo

Didn't realize you were into Radiohead. You should have a chat with Nim Chimpsky, that guy knows pretty much every sample used in there albums etc.

Also if you haven't seen There Will Be Blood yet, check it out, it's worth it just to listen to the magnificent Johnny Greenwood score alone.

Must try get hold of that book, sounds exactly like my kind of thing.


What up Rob? Good to see ya--haven't seen you around these parts in a while. Right on, I'll check out your Radiohead recommendation, and it sounds like your buddy can teach me a thing or two about the band.

Yes, definitely try and get your hands on the book and let me know what you think...It's a refreshing read!

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