Know Your ABCs: An Album, a Book, and a Cat

Here’s your new Sunday edition of Know Your ABCs…

Your Album:  O’o, by John Zorn’s Dreamers
Your Book:  Hellboy, by Mike Mignola.
Your Cat:  Faith, a black domestic shorthair, three legs.


O’o, an Album by John Zorn’s Dreamers

John Zorn may be better known for his free jazz full of skronks and screeches, but to dismiss him as such and move on is a pretty unfortunate mistake.  Over the course of his career, he’s expanded his sound and the reach of his compositions to where his most recognizable aspect is the difficulty in which it is to categorize him.  His albums with the Dreamers ensemble is an excellent case in point.

On O’o, he’s cooked up a soup of jazz, klezmer, surf, rock and field sounds resulting in a mesmerizing set of tunes, often quite ambient even when they show some bite.

Your album personnel:  John Zorn (conductor, arrangements), Kenny Wollesen (vibes), Jamie Saft (keyboards), Marc Ribot (guitar), Trevor Dunn (bass), Joey Baron (drums), and Cyro Baptista (percussion).

The field recordings that play through many of the songs are the sound of birds, not coincidentally, as the album title and songs are named after birds that have gone extinct.  That they don’t come off as some gimmick is testament to the obvious care that Zorn took to the recording of this album.  As to the tunes themselves, it’s an album that wears its melodies on its sleeve; the melodies are catchy as hell, but not out of some vapid simplicity, the kind of lyrical saccharine that makes the pop song of the day instantly recognizable, then instantly forgettable when the day is over.  Zorn seems to have encrypted the melodies into his odd fusion of different music styles, and voiced slightly differently by the various instruments.  The effect is that the melody isn’t drilled into you, but whispered in your ear a little bit at a time.

For me, the highlight of the album is the way Marc Ribot’s shimmering guitar notes weave around Wollesen’s bright vibe runs, but that’s just personal taste.  Overall, the musicians create an ambiance that is difficult to break from once the first note sounds.  The album tunes all have a cohesion from one to the next, but also when taken as a whole.

This is the kind of album I like to sit back on a lazy Sunday afternoon and just stare into space, enjoying my time off.  Peaceful music that has tension to engage but plenty of serene moments on which to drift away.  It’s coming up on two years since I purchased O’o and I can’t see there being any chance I ever tire of it.  Highly recommended.

Released on the Tzadik label.

Available on Amazon: CD | MP3



HELLBOY, a Book by Mike Mignola & John Byrne

It is World War II.  We are looking back upon events that occurred of an occult variety.  The evil axis is using ancient texts and Stonehenge to call upon supernatural forces to aid them in the war effort.  The Allied forces also have their supernatural weapons.  A group of American and English heroes and psychics descend upon an old church in France.  Something is going to happen; both sides are sure of it.  Lightning strikes, the moment arrives, and at Stonehenge… nothing.  At the church, a small child, demon red with innocent eyes emerges from the smoke… he is given the name Hellboy.

It is back to the present day.  Hellboy is an adult and a member of the Bureau of Paranormal Research & Defense, a supernatural defense squad.  BPRD is like several of the misunderstood curiosities from X-Files got together and formed a supergroup (it is what it is; accept it, and the story is so much more fun).  Things are happening; strange things.  Members of the Allied group that discovered Hellboy are showing up dead.  There are frightened whispers of an Arctic discovery gone wrong, of memory loss and delirious wandering, of a mansion on a dead lake whose residents date back to pioneer days and whose ancestors all died while searching for ancient ruins gleaned from a bit of cryptic text.  Hellboy and the BPRD go to this house.  Waiting for them are a nice old lady and a mystic with ties to Hellboy’s first breath on the planet’s surface.

I’ve been familiar with this title for quite some time, but I’m just now delving into it.  Seeds of Destruction is the first volume in the Hellboy series.  The imprint, Darkhorse Comics, has published several more, including a bunch of spin-offs.  I am in the process of collecting them all.  Mike Mignola’s sharp lines, the contrast of bright reds and yellows against foreboding black, and the dispersal of corny humor amongst the genuinely creepy imagery leaves for a very fun read.  Very recommended.

Here’s a link to the Darkhorse Comics site where they focus on the Hellboy series.

Available at Amazon: Paperback | Library Edition



FAITH – a Cat who needs a home

Faith is a neighborhood stray who was rescued from a vicious dog attack.  One of his legs was badly mangled and had to be amputated.  He’s been without his leg since he was a tiny kitten, and he manages just fine now without it.  Having one less leg doesn’t appear to be an obstacle to leaping up on the office desk and knocking pens to the floor or diving into a stack of papers like a child will a pile of leaves and making a big mess.  The missing leg also doesn’t stop him from being a snuggle bug.  He squirms with happiness when he’s held and will give kisses.  He also lost part of a whisker in that dog attack, but that just adds to his cuteness.


Faith is all black, domestic shorthair.  We’re estimating his age at six months as of the end of 2011.  His rehabilitation period is over from the surgery and he’s as playful as any kitty around.  He gets along real well with cats, likes to play and roughhouse.  He should definitely be an indoor cat because of his missing leg.  He’s up to date on all shots and is negative for feline leukemia.  He knows what a litter box is and how to use it.  Other than the missing leg, he’s a healthy little kitten.

If you’re looking for a cat that likes being a snuggle-bug and who will curl up with you, Faith is a real good choice.  He likes to chase any thrown toy, especially those with bells.  He’s a real sweetheart and we really need to find a home for him.  He needs a real home.

More information on Faith is available at the Mercer (KY) Humane Society at (859) 734-9500,  If you are unable to adopt, you may sponsor his adoption, or the adoption of any cat, by contacting the office.