Let's Put Her Over The Top

Waayyyy over the top!

Attention, lovers of quirk: Alaskan songwriter Marian Call's current kickstarter campaign has managed to fund her forthcoming album, but she's still shy of a stretch goal. Her instrument (apart from voice) is keyboard, and yet she does not own one. Imagine having to cross the wintery wilderness to find an 88 in a moment of inspiration. Hunters, and blizzards, and bears– oh my!

She gives freely (all her music is streamable for zilch) and she asks for patronage so that she can keep on givin'. If you like her stuff, or want to see whether you'll like her next stuff, consider underwriting her art and reaping some of those generous kickstarter kickbacks!

Feat. photos by Brian Adams, Valette Keller, Craig Richmond, and Grace Virginia Kari, and illustrations/photos by Patrick Race

Feat. photos by Brian Adams, Valette Keller, Craig Richmond, and Grace Virginia Kari, and illustrations/photos by Patrick Race

Marian is on the move


If you have followed our previous coverage of Marian Call, you know that she's our favorite wandering geek-minstrel and catalyst of casual fun. Well, Marian's on the move in her Portland to Portland (and back!) tour, which has already taken her from the Pacific Northwest to New England. At this very moment, she's on her way down the coast toward DC. She'll meander across Penn and Ohio on the way to Minestrone, Wisconsin, Colorado, Utah, and finally end up (of course) in Portland again (on the way back to Alaska).

Braving the same trip is flightless wingman Scott Barkan.

Marian and Scott will be playing in a variety of small venues and at house concerts, and she'll be vending worthy goods. If you enjoy folksy singer/songerwriters with a novel, quirky edge, you should go see her. That's what I plan to do. It's Elementary!

Taffer Style

This is a relatively self-indulgent post, but hey– blog!

This is fundamentally a gaming site, founded and sustained by gamers, and I was once, and remain, a rabid fan of the gaming franchise that began with Thief: The Dark Project, continued with Thief II: The Metal Age and Thief: Deadly Shadows, and will soon resume with 2014's Thief. These are the high water mark in first-person, hybrid, potentially non-violent, stealth-based, story-rich games.

A recent discussion of satire, parody, and pastiche in the comment section of another thread here reminded me that I wrote a handful of Thief-themed pastiches back in the early aughties. To share them with others who might like them, to store them in our database, and to revisit them with wistful nostalgia, I reproduce them below. Each is set to the theme of a pop song. Note well: these are only meaningful if you've played the games, and they're best read with the corresponding tunes playing in the background. :) The songs are Barbie Girl, All Star, Mickey, We Didn't Start The Fire, Uptown Girl, Cheers, and U Can't Touch This.

In one sense, the message of this post in a nutshell is "Ain't I a clever chap!" But if you, too, love the Thief games, then in joining the nostalgia perhaps you'll revisit some fond memories of your own. Continue reading….

Popehat Goes To The Opera: Così fan tutte

It's time for the second edition of Popehat Goes To the Opera. In our last episode, I talked about Wagner's rather self-serious but entertaining Tannhauser. This time, the subject is Mozart's Così fan tutte.

As before my companion text is Sir Denis Forman's hilarious and insightful A Night at the Opera. And which recording of the opera do I recommend? It's not even a close call — definitely this remastered 1962 version by Karl Böhm with, among others, the masterful Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Giuseppe Taddei.

Why Così? Why an opera the title of which is generally translated as "women are like that" or, to modern ears, "bitches, amirite?" Why an opera with a silly plot about fiancé-swapping?

Because it's undeservedly obscure to non-opera-lovers, the music is heartbreakingly beautiful, it's a good illustration of dramatic, operatic, and social conventions, and it illuminates how we approach troublesome texts from different eras. Moreover, it continues the theme I began with Tannhauser — much opera is dramatic junk wrapped in musical genius.

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