February 1, 2007

Seems as if each day brings new and wonderful surprises from the mailbox and our mail delivery.

* Reading-wise, Simon Winchester’s A Crack in the Edge of the World, about the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, was an excellent read and helped pass the time on a very long 5-hr. flight from Massachusetts to Phoenix this past New Year’s Eve. So good, in fact, that I ordered his Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883, and am looking forward to enjoying it as much as I did his other one.

* John Kelly’s The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time may sound like a downer of a book, but it’s not – it’s a truly fascinating read about life in the Middle Ages and the sociological, cultural, and meterological doings that led to the Black Death. It really is a page-turner.

* In my latest issue of Endless Summer Quarterly (a wonderful Beach Boys fanzine), I was interested to find out that editor-in-chief Dave Beard is not only a fellow Episcopalian, but has found great spiritual nourishment in returning to active participation in the Church and parish of his youth. Great to hear – I love reading about those kinds of happenings. God speed on your journey, David.

On the listening front, I’ve REALLY been getting heavily into Exotica music – music that seeks to capture the sounds and spirit of faraway places like the South Seas and the Far East through the heavy use of percussion, woodwinds and bird calls on top of mallet instrument (vibraphone, marimba, xylophone, gongs, etc.) and jazzy piano arrangements. (More on this in a later post.) This latest craze has been fed by the following musical selections:

* Martin Denny – The Exciting Sounds of Martin Denny: Exotica/Exotica, Vol. I & II: I don’t know whether Martin Denny or Les Baxter is considered more the “father of Exotica”, but I do know that this CD combining Denny’s two landmark albums is a must-have primer for anyone interested in hearing what Exotica sounds like. Just fabulous.

* Waitiki – Charred Mammal Flesh – Exotic Music for BBQ: My choice for CD find of the year. This Massachusetts band, to me, is the ultimate in cool, wild, and wacky exotica, with song titles and descriptions that read like a exotic drink menu at a Polynesian restaurant. It’s already my choice for TGWS CD of the year. You gotta hear it to believe it!

* Elua Kane – Ukelele Boy: We’ve been looking for another CD to compliment Moana Chang’s wonderful Boat Days in Hawaii, and, after hearing a number of selections by this group played on SIRIUS radio, I knew it was the perfect find. Male group vocals doing happy Hawaiian music – how can you beat that? Put Chang’s CD and this together in the ol’ CD player, hit shuffle, head out to the tiki bar, and enjoy your favorite boat drink.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:40 | Comments (0)
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