Tuesday, July 30, 2013

More Fans Monday: Blackfire and Jackie Chan

Time for another "More Fans Monday," and today we'll start off with Blackfire.

Blackfire formed in 1989 and is a band comprised of siblings Jeneda, Klee, and Clayson Benally (click image to enlarge); they are Navajo, which deeply influences their music - a combination of alternative and punk rock with a message.

In 2003, Nora Guthrie, daughter of Woody Guthrie (1912–1967) "... allowed them to set music to some of his unreleased and unpublished lyrics. By next year, they released a two-track EP titled Woody Guthrie Singles. The songs on the EP are called “Mean Things Happenin’ in this World,” a protest song dealing with issues like wars waged for fortune and encroachment of rights by the federal government, and “Indian Corn Song,” a song about 'political and big business corruption, the poor economy, and ends with a plea to feed the homeless and orphans.' " [wikipedia.org]

We haven't heard much from these three, but they are nonetheless making waves wherever they go.

For this group, it was impossible to decide which video of theirs to share - a music video detailing the toll of pollution on Earth? A live performance of "Mean Things Happenin' in this World"? Why not both? Enjoy!


Second for this Monday is Jackie Chan. No, not Jackie Chan like the action star - it is Jackie Chan the action star! Many of you might not know that he has a thriving singing career. (Actually, he is an actor, action choreographer, comedian, director, producer, martial artist, screenwriter, entrepreneur, stunt performer, and singer.) All those Cantonese songs in his movies? Well, that's him.

When he was a child, he attended Peking Opera School. He started his music career in the 1980s to continued success. I won't go into much detail with this since there are several biographies that have been published.

In the Chinese release of Disney's Mulan, Jackie voiced the lead male role of Shang. In doing so, he recorded the popular Mulan song, "I'll Make a Man Out of You." This is the video that was eventually chosen. It's my second favorite of his music (the first being "Flight of the Dragon"), and the video not only displays his talent as a singer, but also as a martial artist.

As always, thanks for reading! Share the music!

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Ninja Fish

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Toss Up Tuesday: Breaking Writers Block

Writer's block. We all suffer from it some time. It slowly creeps up and then grips you firmly, refusing to let your mind focus, stifling the creative flow - nothing comes in and nothing comes out. Writer's block can be a brief stall that lasts mere minutes or a stalemate that lasts years. So, how do we get rid of it? I have a simple trick that always works for me, at least by the third time.

This trick is a writing exercise that I created my sophomore year of high school. It allows you to think simply and clearly, while slowly kicking your brain into gear. I call it "Still Object Method."

Step 1: Pick an object and a simple setting. Nothing too complex, but something simple and inanimate. For this example, I'll pick an apple in a completely white room.

This is my apple. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

Step 2: Write it into existence. Start out simply. Write one or two lines about discovering it, how it came to be, etc. Think of it as an opening or introduction.
"There it sat. It is a mystery where it came from, but there it was, unashamedly intruding upon the stainless, glossy table of an otherwise completely white room; it was a crimson ink stain on a pristine, collared shirt."
Step 3: Pick a feature and describe it as if it were the most fascinating thing in the world. Pick one feature. Don't spend too much space on it and try to describe the feature without referring to it directly. For instance, instead of saying "it's color was a deep red," you would say something like:
"The apple was a bold drop of blood upon the first snow of winter. It's shine glared as if struck by a brilliant light, rather than the dull flickering of an overhead lamp."
Step 4: Continue this for another feature. Make sure it is a feature that will give it a nice contrast. I first commented on the glossy red of the fruit; now I will comment on it's stem, complete with dull green leaf.
"A small, brown stem protruded from it's top, stretching toward the heavens like nature's crown. Dull green leaves sprouted from it, hanging downward to kiss the fruit with velvety tip."
Step 5: Expand the description from the object. Work from the closest to the furthest. In this case, from the table top to the floor, to the chair, and so on.
 "It rested upon the cold surface of white marble, defying it's colorless world - from the immaculate floor to the blank, staring walls."
Step 6: Describe an event. Someone/something interacting with it, etc.
"A young woman, almost as pale as the room which she now entered, flicked her silvery blonde hair from her shoulder and lifted the apple in her slender fingers toward her mouth. Her thin, rosy lips parted."
Step 7: Create a nice, neat ending. Try ending on a dynamic word for impact - a seldom used word, an onomatopoeia, and so on.
"Her pearly teeth sank into it's flesh as she tore away a chunk with a loud crunch!"

Try it again with other objects. Some favorites of mine are chairs, lamps, knives, glasses of water, stones, and candles. Once you get to the end, try to continue it. For instance, I ended with a girl biting the apple. I'd start writing about the girl - what she did, where she went, or perhaps a back story. Maybe the girl wasn't supposed to be eating the apple; perhaps she was part of some sort of scientific testing.

This usually helps break the writer's block. I hope that it helps you. Remember that even if you are stuck on a project, try to write something else - even a journal entry - because if you don't use it, you lose it!

[Edit: This post was originally published on Wednesday, July 24th (delayed due to site issues) and re-published on Friday, July 26th due to continuing problems.]

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

More Fans Monday: Eivør Pálsdóttir

Today on More Fans Monday, we are doing a special solo profile on my favorite female singer, Eivør Pálsdóttir - or as she's known, simply Eivør.

Eivør is native to the Faeroe Islands. (The Faeroe Islands are descended from the Norse and Gaelic, but is under the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Denmark.) Eivør debuted at the age of 12 when she traveled to Italy with the Faroese Men's Choir as a soloist [wikipedia.org]. At the age of 15, she dropped her formal education and worked toward carving out a name for herself in the world of music. In 2000, at the age of 16, she released her first album (self titled Eivør Pálsdóttir), featuring "a mixture of traditional Faroese ballads and new songs written by Eivør and her band, and performed with a folky and jazzy feel," [eivor.com].

A year later, she won the National Faroese Band Contest with her then band, Chickhaze. In 2002, she moved to the capital of Iceland and began touring with Chickhaze, to great success.

She currently resides in Denmark.


    Eivør Pálsdóttir (SHD 50, tutl 2000)
    Clickhaze EP (HJF 91, tutl 2002)
    Yggdrasil (HJF 88, tutl 2002)
    Krákan (12T001, 12 tónar 2003)
    Eivør (12T010, 12 tónar 2004)
    Trøllabundin (together with the Big band of Danmarks Radio 2005)
    Human Child (R 60117-2, RecArt Music 2007)
    Mannabarn (R 60116-2, RecArt Music 2007, Faroese version of Human Child)
    Eivör Live (SHD125, tutl 2009)
    Undo your mind EP (Copenhagen Records 2010)
    Larva (SHD 130 tutl 2010)
    Room (tutl 2012)

Song Review
The first song to be reviewed is a favorite of mine, Hounds of Love, originally by Kate Bush (1985). I enjoy Eivør's version much more than the original; this cover is soulful, inspiring, and ethereal. The original is more of a stereotypical 80s pop song with a strong, punchy beat and almost comical melodic howling. While not entirely unpleasant to listen to, Bush's version does not create a desire to actually listen to and interpret the meaning behind the lyrics, but rather makes listeners dismiss it as just another pop song. In the version presented by Eivør, the melody, visuals, and timing suggest a deeper meaning and allow the reader to develop a story in their mind.

The next song is darker, more raw and distorted than the last - Undo Your Mind. This song inspires much of my writing (novel-wise). It's hypnotic, slightly sinister, and full of pleasing visuals/movement (for instance, the hands at 0:11) and interesting color play - the contrasting of dark, unsaturated black, white, and gray moving to the warm colors of fire and the dancers' clothing.

Eivør's unique voice weaves a haunting image in the mind's eye that always makes me think of some sort of menacing mysticism in a society of urban decay and ancient, earthy traditionalism. It is this that shows clearly Eivør's Faroese roots.

Eivør Pálsdóttir is a truly incredible singer, striving to stay true to her roots and inspire others. Though she started at a remarkably young age, she was an instant success and will continue to stimulate the minds of all who will listen.

Thanks for reading, and remember: all good music invigorates the imagination!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Fan Q&A

1. What songs have you downloaded most recently? Some songs by Red Hot Chili Peppers
2. What are the names of playlists on your PC or mp3 player/iPod? Exercising, Relaxing, Meditation, Sleep, Zombie Games, Russian, German, and Favorites.
3. What is your most treasured CD? Probably the autographed Joe Satriani CD my uncle got for me at his concert. By the way, he's playing in Atlanta, GA on September 15th.
4. What song are you listening to right now? "Never Gonna Come Back Down" by BT
5. What song is your ringtone? "Natural Blues" by Moby
6. What is the strangest food that you enjoy? Shark.
7. Are you an "adventurous eater"? Very.
8. What is your least favorite food? Water chestnuts.
9. What are your top 5 favorite music genres? Industrial, Darkwave, Steampunk, Celtic, and Folk Metal.
10. What is on your to-do list today? Write this, laundry, review bands, check the mail, and schedule some stuff.
11. What book are you currently reading? At the moment? My German verbs dictionary.
12. What's your favorite alcoholic drink? Pirates Party or Vulcan Mind Meld.
13. What do you eat/drink while you write during your late night sessions? Junk food and Baileys Irish Cream.
14. What is your process/routine for reviewing music? Listen to it constantly - while I work out, while I'm on the road, around the house, etc. Research the band and the work behind the album. Dissect the individual songs and look for music videos. Pick out my favorites. More research. Attempt to contact the band or singer. Obsess over the songs I will discuss by listening, rewinding, and replaying certain parts over and over and over. Write the article over a period of days while listening to it. Publish it.
15. What is your process/routine for writing? Listen to music, get inspired by art. Compile said art. Daydream. Drink a bit. Daydream more. Take a walk. Zone out. Stay up late. Write. Delete. Rewrite. Delete. Rewrite. Drink. Sleep. Wake up and read. Delete a majority and rewrite. Ignore it for a few months. Pick it back up, tweak it, and continue writing from step one.
16. What did you want to be growing up? A novelist. That's my most passionate and steadfast desire. Other things I wanted to be included an astronaut, an architect, and a stunt-woman. Then in high school, I seriously pursued criminal justice. I wanted to eventually work for INTERPOL (The International Criminal Police Organization) as a German-English translator.
17. What are 5 things most people don't know about you? I speak German, though it's still not perfect and I have a lot to learn; I know enough to live there comfortably and take care of myself. I am Scottish and German - and extremely proud of it. I love watermelon flavored things. I am obsessed with funky socks. And... I enjoy fresh notebooks/sheets of paper and newly sharpened pencils. They're so full of possibilities.
18. What is your personality type? INFJ. It's the rarest type and it means I am a bit odd.
19. What are some quirks you have? I am nocturnal, I am OCD about things that are important to me, I'm not very tidy, I hate it when other people clean (I can never find anything when they do), I have an overactive imagination, I'm a very picky eater most of the time (I get nauseated very easily), I absolutely hate ice in my drinks (unless it's water), and many other things.
20. What is your personal opinion on the Twilight movies and books? (My niece is 17 and wanted me to ask.) The writing style was easy to follow and enjoyable. The content? Hated it. At first, I was interested, but then it got a little to angsty and ridiculous for me. I am actually embarrassed to watch the movies, even alone. So, I guess you can say I pretty much hate it. Especially since the writer is so unashamedly arrogant. I can't stand her.
21. What event do you wish you could go to this year? A lot of them - M'era Luna, Lightning in a Bottle, Electric Forest, and Electric Daisy Carnival.
22. What's your favorite word? I have many. I enjoy "tandem", "penchant", and Reißverschluss (German for zipper).
23. What is your biggest pet peeve? Hearing people eat or drink. I hate it so much and have absolutely no tolerance for it (unless I have to because it's in public). It actually makes me cringe and I can't help it. I can't focus on anything else when I hear someone eat or drink.
24. What is your favorite treat? Those pineapple mango smoothies from McDonald's. I love them.
25. If you had money to burn, what would you splurge on? Books. Always books.
26. What is your favorite movie genre? If you can't pick one - top three. Top three: Science fiction, action, and fantasy.
27. What are you thinking about right now? Dying my hair, things I need to get done, how tired I am, where my mp3 player might be, and some other stuff.
28. What are three things about you that you think are unique? I hate doughnuts, my eyes change from green to hazel and back, I don't have a southern accent though I've lived in the south for quite some time now, and I have a great imagination.
29. What movie(s) do you think are overrated? Titanic.
30. What is your favorite type of food? Seafood
31. What is your favorite animal? Pandas - they consist of my favorite colors, they're fluffy, they're fun to watch, and they're endangered. I've loved them since the 2nd grade when I became aware of the World Wildlife Foundation. I had a hippie teacher in Florida that let us adopt a manatee - Howie - as a class. We even had this coconut that we passed around a circle where we had so say something nice about the person on our left when it came to us.
32. Who is your favorite singer? Male: David Bowie. Female: Eivør Pálsdóttir.
33. What is your favorite soda? Cream Soda.
34. What's your favorite color? White - it's clean, fresh, and goes with everything.
35. What is the next concert you're going to? I'll be seeing The Crüxshadows, Voltaire, Professor Elemental, and Ghost of the Robot on Memorial Day weekend. Other bands yet to be determined, plus some awesome rave DJs.
36. What's the next convention you're attending? Dragon*Con 2013
37. What's your favorite candy? Pop rocks
38. What is your birthday tradition (if you have one)? Going to the zoo.
39. What video game(s) are you currently playing? Kingdom Hearts Re:coded (3DS), The Avatar Legends (XBOX360 indie game), The Gunstringer (XBOX360), Duke Nukem Forever (PC/XBOX360) and Alice: The Madness Returns (PC).
40. What are your favorite TV shows? Doctor Who, Firefly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Destination Truth, Stargate Atlantis, Highlander, Big Bang Theory, and Psych.

Thanks for all the questions! If your question didn't make it here, don't worry - you'll get another chance! Thanks for reading and feel free to check out Ninja Fish on Facebook!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Toss Up Tuesday: A Look in My Alcohol Cabinet

That's just a snazzy title, by the way; I don't really have a cabinet for alcohol. I sort of just stack it on top the mini fridge or by the TV. A couple of drinks in this review I don't actually own right now, but have had copious amounts of in the past.

First, Everclear. Everclear is made from corn. It has no taste, but it has one hell of a burn. There are two types of Everclear: 75.5% (151-proof) and 95% (190-proof) alcohol by volume. Unfortunately, I had the pleasure of consuming the 190 proof. It was an intense experience that I'm unwilling to repeat. My lips burned, my mouth and throat burned, and it felt as if I had swallowed fire that continued to burn in my chest and stomach. Luckily, since it has no taste, only a burn, you can chase it with water to relieve some of the harshness.

If you don't believe that it could be so intense, here is an excerpt from wikipedia.org about the other uses of Everclear 190:
In British Columbia, it is available for purchase only with a permit for medical, research, or industrial use.
[... ]
190-proof Everclear is in regular use among fine woodworkers and luthiers as the preferred shellac solvent in French polish finishing.
Everclear can be used as an antiseptic, as a fuel in camping stoves, and as a cleaner for the restoration of smoking pipes.
Everclear 190 is considered an excellent, odor-free grade of ethanol for use in fine perfumery or tincturing. It is manufactured to be of beverage grade and is not denatured, i.e., it contains no chemical additives which render it undrinkable.
Grain alcohol such as Everclear 190 is highly recommended for cleaning the optics on laser cutters and engravers because of its purity.

Next on the list is a personal favorite, Absinthe. You will probably hate this drink if you don't like the taste of black liquorish. Absinthe originated in Switzerland in the late 18th century and gained popularity throughout Europe. Today, there are over 200 brands of absinthe.

Absinthe requires precise and careful preparation, mixing specific amounts of water and sugar with the absinthe, as seen below.

Contrary to popular belief:

  1. absinthe does not cause hallucinations (commonly referred to as seeing the "green fairy").
  2. Authentic absinthe does NOT come from Czechoslovakia.
  3.  Absinthe is NOT supposed to be radioactive green. It should be a very natural green
    - via "5 Myths About Absinthe", Mutineer Magazine

Next is another personal favorite - Primero Classico di Amore Amaretto. This drink is 21% alcohol per volume (42-proof), and has a really unique flavor. On the bottle, it is described as a nutty flavor of bitter almonds blended with apricots. However, if you've ever had the sweet, liquid Zyrtec® as a child - that's kind of what it tastes like, mixed lightly with caramel. But less like syrup.

Some popular drinks containing di Amore Amaretto are: After Work Special, Amaretto Cherry Sour, Amore Ade, Banana Di Amore, Di Amore Dream, and The C G.

A bottle goes for around $13, a virtually inexpensive drink. It's pretty delicious. As for me, I sometimes secretly add a bit to my coffee or root beer.

The final one for today was made popular by "Old Gregg" (video featured below; warning: inappropriate) - and I can't get enough of it! Baileys Irish Cream. It's great on its own, in coffee, and in the making of desserts. It's a smooth, rich taste of Irish whiskey, coffee, and cream. Personally, all of these flavors are favorites of mine. Combined in the same bottle? Well, that's just king.

Wikipedia tells of its origins here:

Baileys Irish Cream was created by Gilbeys of Ireland, a division of International Distillers & Vintners, as it searched for something to introduce to the international market. The process of finding a product began in 1971 and it was introduced in 1974 as the first Irish cream on the market. The Baileys name, and the R.A. Bailey signature, were fictional, inspired by the Bailey's Hotel in London. Baileys is produced in Dublin and under contract in Newtownabbey

Baileys Irish Cream contains 17% alcohol per volume (34-proof). Though it's not the most alcoholic beverage out there, it is certainly one of the most delicious.

 A list of some desserts made with Baileys can be found here.

"Have you ever drunk Baileys from a shoe?"

And finally, the "Pirates Party" drink recipe. This recipe can be found on the back of any Calico Jack Pineapple Coconut Rum bottle.
1 Part Calico Jack Pineapple Coconut Rum
2 Parts Ginger Ale
Splash of Orange Juice

Mix in a glass with ice and garnish with an orange slice.
 However, I make a variation of this. I keep the ingredients chilled to avoid the watering down that ice can cause (you can also use Cubies), and I substitute orange soda for the ginger ale.

That concludes our Toss Up Tuesday! Happy drinking!

*Ninja Fish does not condone underage drinking. Drink responsibly.

Monday, July 15, 2013

More Fans Monday: Other Blogs

I'd like to try something a little different for this Monday: a shout out to friends who have supported me and my blog. Their blogs deserve some love too!

First up, Les diables d'Angélique. 

This blog was created by a good friend of mine. Sometimes she'll feature my poetry. Hers is rather amazing as well, and it deserves some mention. Her is an excerpt of her poem "My Quiet Resolve".

"Should I grow a blackened heart?
of hatred for those who've wronged it
and infinite remorse for whom it have wronged.

Should I empty it?
of every memory and every note,
so passionately imprinted,
and strip it of the pondering pleasure."

This blog features not only her poems, but her short stories, poems from other poets, music, and more things that inspire her.

Next up is Galaxy Zento.

This blog features the art and writing of Dave Wilde's Galaxy Zento - a universe he created. There are numerous villains and heroes, epic battles, and lessons to be learned. You might remember him from a previous shout out post featuring his latest book. An inspiring word from him about his new book and Autism can be found here.

Here's an excerpt from his latest post:

 "As he reached the door leading to his floor, someone grabbed him from behind and put a dark hand over his mouth. Larratus struggled and shook off his attacker, turning and putting his back to a wall. Everyone thought the Deformer was dead, killed by Electrode back in the beginning of the conflict. The same time Larratus realized that Deformer was very alive, he realized he had no mouth to say anything about it. Deformer had used his power to mold living flesh and sealed the Commander’s lips together. Commander Larratus pushed his way through the stairwell door, looking for a way to defend himself."

Both of these people I consider to be good friends. Their continued support and inspiration makes this blog possible. Not only for that reason, but the fact that they are both incredible at what they do, proves that they are truly deserving of more fans.

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Toss Up Tuesday: How to (Properly) Kick Down a Door

Why would you ever need to kick down a door, you may wonder. Well, there are several reasons:
  • Your toddler has learned how to lock doors (my 2-year-old nephew has). He runs into a bathroom (or other room) and locks the door. You worry about him hurting himself and need to get in, but he's not listening and won't open the door.
  • A friend (or you) gets stuck in a room, shed, etc. and you need to get out.
  • You have reason to believe that a person (or more) on the other side is injured and unconscious or unable to get to/open the door.
The list goes on. Either way, when the time comes you should be prepared.

1. Stay calm. Anger and panic increase your chance of injury and may make you miss your mark.

2. If there are multiple entrances, select the door that seems it will most easily break on impact in comparison with other doors*. If all doors are the same, pick the one nearest to you. Make sure that it is a door that swings in - which is the same direction as the force of your kick. It will be more difficult to kick in a door that normally swings out and may take more than one try.

*Different door materials make a difference!

Hollow Core - These doors are usually inside doors with no insulation or security and require minimal force.

Solid Wood - These doors are made of hardwood and require an average amount of force. You can also use a crowbar, but it may not be necessary though.

Solid Core - The inside frame of this door is softwood with laminate on each side and a chipped or shaved wood core that require average force.

Metal Clad - These doors are softwood with a thin metal covering and require an average to above average amount of force. A crowbar may be necessary.

Hollow Metal - These doors are much heavier than other doors, have reinforcing channel around the edges and the lock mounting area, and some have insulating material. They require maximum force and a crowbar.

3. Focus your aim on the area a few inches below the door knob or lock. Take a deep breath.

4. Stand sideways a few feet away from the door, with your dominant foot facing toward it.  Your center of mass should be in front of your supporting leg. Do not lean away from the kick. Keep your body straight.

5. Execute a side kick, pushing from the heel of your base leg and driving your kicking heel into the door. If done correctly, you should feel as if you are falling into your target.

6. Repeat if necessary. Under no circumstances should you try to break the door down using your shoulder and momentum. You will not be targeting the week part of the door and will only damage yourself.

Remember: you may need it some day, so in addition to CPR and other first aid practices, you should always keep a copy of these steps somewhere.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Independence Day!

Happy 4th From Ninja Fish!

 We will be gone through Sunday.
Please begin pining for us.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Album Review: Mighty Seed

Mighty Seed was released in May 2013 by This Way to the Egress. It is a mesh of gypsy-cabaret, bluesy fun. There was never a dull moment when listening to this album.

Album Art: The album art consisted of photography by Matt Blum (of Lightly Salted Productions) - one shot of the band in the center of the cover insert; the rest, interesting shots of instruments and vegetation, tying in beautifully with the overall tone of the album as well as the title. The cover itself was a very aesthetically pleasing image of an accordion and watering can (seen above).


Favorite Tracks: My favorite tracks were "Clarence", "M.I.A.", "Cage Bird", "Live Through Your Strings", "Pound Yer Bones", and "6 Count Swing" - though all of the songs were incredible. For the sake of time, I will pick my top three favorites among these.

"Live Through Your Strings" was slower paced, but the violin was powerful, drawing you in to every note. The vocals complemented the unspoken words that the violin seemed to weave into the air around the other instruments. We also hear a bit more from Jacklyn "the" Kidd. Rather than becoming a blend with the other instruments (or being all but drowned out in live performances thanks to whoever set up the sound system), you can pick her out at various points in the song. Her plucky notes seem to dance with the swaying of the violin. This was clearly a brilliant move by Egress for the aptly titled song.

"Pound Yer Bones". What can I say about this? It's a jaunty tune that makes it impossible to sit still. Each instrument seems to have at least a small section to shine. To me, this is what always comes to mind when I think of Egress - lively, singing loudly, and playing their hearts out. It's vibrant, it's colorful, it's just so Egress.

"6 Count Swing" is pretty laid back, but very soulful. The vocals are smooth and rich, tastefully enhanced by the bass (guest feature - Matt Colpitts). This song impressively resounds from deep within the thoracic diaphragm. At 1:42, there's a delightful pick up in tempo that pleasantly contrasts with the first half of the song - but not so much that it's irritating; quite the opposite.

Overall: I was deeply impressed with this album and enjoyed every minute of it. It rarely happens that I have nothing negative to say about the album, but I find myself failing to find anything wrong with it. All the musicians have a chance to shine, each song is different while still holding true to a central theme. I applaud Egress and each featured guest on the album. I'm looking forward to hearing more from them and I can't wait to hear their new drummer.**

*Additional Credits
"Clarence": Andrew Benjamin from Hellblinki (in case you couldn't tell) did the intro. Dave Doll was featured on trumpet. Guest vocals - Mizeria and Matt Colpitts.
"M.I.A.": Shlomi Lavie was featured as a vocalist.
"Pocket Change": Stefan Zenik - featured clarinet.
"6 Count Swing": Matt Colpitts - bass.
"Pound Yer Bones": Guest vocals by Mizeria and Matt Colpitts.
"Lyle's Tale": Vocals and Lap Steel - Ryan Baugess, Vocals - Gloria Davis 

**Via "Saddle" Sarah: 
"Mat had decided to leave the band and pursue other things back [in] May. We wish him the best of luck in all he does. But we have been working with another drummer who I am sure you all will love and plays Mats parts ridiculously well!"
Ninja Fish thinks this is great music to... drink your friends under the table with.
Album Rating:

Listen and buy here!
Like and learn more about Egress here!

Toss Up Tuesday: Little Known Books

For today's "Toss Up Tuesday", I will be reviewing two books that aren't as well known as some, but still amazing. I won't go into too much detail and spoil it, though; you'll have to pick up the book (or cheat and find the summary online) to see what happens. Each cover image chosen is the cover of the book that I read when I was a kid. They may not be the coolest, they may not be the latest version, but to me they will always have that magic feel. Enjoy!

First up is The Wind Singer. This novel was written by William Nicholson and published in 2000. It follows the story of a young girl (Kestrel), her twin brother (Bowman), and their none-too-bright companion (Mumpo). The three live in a meritocratic society known as Aramanth.
 "Using a system based on colour classifications, the governing Examiners dictate what people can wear, where they can live and what jobs they can do. The levels are grey, maroon, orange, scarlet and white, with grey the lowest and white the highest. The Emperor is the only person allowed to wear blue." - Wikipedia*

*Link contains spoilers

At the start of the story, we learn that Kestrel is not satisfied with this type of society and their endless exams, so she rebels in class. The teacher sends her to the back of the desks (as they are arranged by intelligence) to sit with the least intelligent student, the messy and slow Mumpo. This angers her and she flees the class. It is here that she finds herself in the company of the Emperor himself who, she comes to learn, holds no power at all. Rather, the man pulling the strings behind the Emperor is none other than the High Examiner. The Emperor entrusts to her an ancient map and tells her that to rid their city of the evil, she has to restore the voice to the Wind Singer - an object that is found in the city arena.

Kestrel, Bowman, and Mumpo (who is head-over-heels for Kestrel and follows her like a puppy) must follow the map, face countless perils, and attempt to restore the voice.

The next novel is one I'd love to get my hands on again - The Great Good Thing by Roderick Townley. This novel was first published in 2001 and tells the tale of Sylvie, a twelve-year-old princess... from a book! Yes, this novel is a story about a story. In the tale, Sylvie is promised to marry a prince, but she tells him that before she is to marry, she must do one "Great Good Thing." The tale is never fully explained, but there is no lack of colorful excitement in this book!

Sylvie's life is dull; she lives the same story over and over - that is, when a reader comes along. Which is practically never. When at last they finally have another reader, Sylvie is so excited and curious that she breaks the first rule - she looks up at the reader. This causes her lady-in-waiting to faint and all sorts of mayhem ensues, causing the reader to laugh with joy. When she finishes the book, she flips right back to the beginning - something that has never happened before. The young girl continues to read the book day after day until her brother, attempting to make the pages look old against his sister's will, accidentally burns the book.

Sylvie, her parents, and a couple of other characters manage to escape into the girl's memory where they live in her dreams and through her retelling of the story to her own children. When she passes on, they escape once more - this time into the memory of their reader's daughter.

I'll stop here and keep the ending to myself. Suffice it to say, this book left a great impression on me. So, just what is "The Great Good Thing?" You'll have to read it and find out.

If you ever happen to come across either of these books, don't hesitate to pick them up. In fact, buy them if you have the chance - you'll want to once you experience them for yourself. They are unique and inspiring stories that will endure through the ages, if only more people will pick them up and embark on the journey.

Happy reading!

Monday, July 1, 2013

More Fans Monday: Cultus Ferox and Postmodern Jukebox

Welcome to "More Fans Monday." More Fans Monday means I get to show you a couple of bands that I enjoy that deserve more fans and more fame than they have.

First up: Cultus Ferox. Cultus Ferox is a German medieval band, active for the last 12 years. I first discovered them through their '07 M'era Luna performance. Their music is largely comprised of percussion and bagpipes with a scattering of various rock instruments. The subjects of their songs range from pagan mythology to pirate life.

Their music is fantastic both live and recorded, evoking a deep burning pride for all those of German descent. For a German-Scot like me, their use of bagpipes, their eloquent German lyrics, and their pagan-pirate attire is quite inspiring. But, you don't have to be German or even speak it to enjoy their incredible ballads!

Since their formation in 'o1, Cultus Ferox has released eight full albums (one of which - Beutezug - was released just this year), one single (Ahoii/Goldene Zeiten, also released earlier this year) and DVDs.

Check them out here:

Next, we're switching to a completely different genre with Postmodern Jukebox! Postmodern Jukebox was formed by Scott Bradlee. Their music features Robyn Adele Anderson (vocals), Adam Kubota (on bass), Allan Mednard (drums), and Scott Bradlee himself (on keys).

Postmodern Jukebox creates Jazz Age versions of popular songs from today and turn them into sensational hits. They're most noted for their cover version of Macklemore's "Thrift Shop" (the original found here), a jazzy number that puts to mind the ever-hilarious lounge singer, Richard Cheese (check his version of Nirvana's "Rape Me" here). However, far from his comical style, Postmodern Jukebox actually creates something of their own worth as much merit as the original artist.
"My goal with Postmodern Jukebox is to get my audience to think of songs not as rigid, ephemeral objects, but like malleable globs of silly putty. Songs can be twisted, shaped, and altered without losing their identities–just as we grow, age, and expire without losing ours–and it is through this exploration that the gap between “high” and “low” art can be bridged most readily." - Scott Bradlee, from the Postmodern Jukebox Website.
You're sure to be fascinated by their creative reconstruction of today's music. Here is their popular version of "Thrift Shop": 

Thanks for reading today's "More Fans Monday"! Your continued support is appreciated. Know a band that's still cleverly hidden from the public eye? Share it in the comments and it may get featured (with a special thanks to you) in our next "More Fans Monday"! In the mean time, keep exploring new music!