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

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

Your Album:  Tuesday Wonderland, by the Esbjorn Svensson Trio
Your Book:  Powers, by Brian Michael Bendis & Michael Avon Oeming.
Your Cat: Sassy, a black domestic short hair


TUESDAY WONDERLAND, an Album by the Esbjorn Svensson Trio

Everybody has someone in their life who wears their heart on their sleeve, is unafraid to show their vulnerabilities and their emotions, to be brutally honest about the sincerity of both, and rather than come off as cloying or sappy, instead engenders a decent amount of respect and a whole lot of trust.  The music of the Esbjorn Svensson Trio is like one of those people for me.

Your album personnel:  Esbjorn Svensson on piano, Dan Berglund on bass, and Magnus Öström at the drums.

When people talk about E.S.T., inevitably, his groundbreaking use of electronics in a jazz trio setting gets mentioned right quick.  While Svensson’s influence on jazz with that medium is inarguable, it’s not where a discussion of E.S.T. should begin.  The melody is where it all begins.

I talk in the opening paragraph about wearing emotions on the sleeve… that’s E.S.T. and melody.  You’ll find on most E.S.T. compositions, the melodies aren’t hidden or deconstructed or terribly subtle, but they’re also not ostentatious or cloying.  There’s a delicacy to the typical E.S.T. melody that is both beautiful and heartbreaking, and it’s why many of their albums never gather dust on my shelves.  Tuesday Wonderland is one of my two favorite albums.

But it’s not just about delicate unguarded melodies… E.S.T. is also about tension.

Their use of electronics and recording techniques atypical for jazz, their embrace of rock drama, and their empathic interplay, they utilize all these elements to construct a tension from within, so that the tunes resonate with an anxiousness regardless of tempo or volume.  Even at their prettiest, many E.S.T. tunes emanate a quiet unease, as if a darkness could descend upon the composition the exact moment the bright and shiny notes fade.  And the juxtaposition of the fragile melodies against the backdrop of tension makes for some thrilling moments.

Tuesday Wonderland was released in 2006 on the ACT Music label.

Available at Amazon: CD | MP3



POWERS: WHO KILLED RETRO GIRL? – a Book by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming

The scene is a detective squad at an inner city police station.  Detective Christian Walker has a new partner, Deena Pilgrim.  They work for District 55 of the Homicide Dept.  They work in Powers.

In a world where superheroes are not only uncommon, but viewed as freakish as often as they are exalted, the Powers Homicide detective squad investigates deaths that have anything to do with superhuman individuals.  The introductions still hang in the air when they get their first assignment together.  The superhero Retro Girl has been murdered, her body brutalized and discarded in a school playground.

Christian and Deena begin investigating.  They question Retro Girl’s fellow superheroes.  They question her enemies.  No one, it seems, knows anything.  Not Triphammer, a former partner of Retro Girl, both in crimefighting and in bed, and whose unique metallic red paint was found at the crime scene, even though Triphammer claims not to have had contact with Retro Girl for months.  Also claiming innocence is Johnny Royale, who uses his powers for evil and his intelligence to run a crime family.  Royale says he is a simple businessman, and while, yes, he did take out a restraining order against Retro Girl, he has nothing against her personally.  Instead of answers, they gain only more questions.

Why does superhero Zora keep visiting Christian on the police station rooftop and why do so many of the Powers talk to Christian with an obvious familiarity?  Why was Kaotic Chic spraypainted near Retro Girl’s corpse and why is the sight of those words occurring more frequently as graffiti across the city?  Does Deena recognize the resemblance between Christian and missing superhero Diamond, and is it true that Diamond went missing not long after mysteriously losing his powers?  Who killed Retro Girl?

Written by Brian Michael Bendis, one of the best writers on the comics/trade scene.  He has a raw style of prose, perfect for a crime story, and not unlike in style from shows like Homicide Life on the Street and The Wire.  Michael Avon Oeming handles the art, possessing a highly reductive style that’s simply fascinating to watch develop over the course of the story.  The inking is equally simplified, using just a couple basic colors, which enhances the story’s bleak and gritty urban landscape.  I’ve always been a fan of superhero comics where the capes and masks aren’t central to the story, if they exist at all.  Just real people in extraordinary circumstances.

This is volume one of a thirteen volume series, but is perfectly able to stand on its own (in other words, you don’t need to invest in the entire series; just can read volume one and walk away quite content).  Originally released on the Image imprint, it’s now on Icon, which is a subsidiary of Marvel Comics.  Powers earned several Eisner Awards, both as a title and for Bendis as a writer.  This is easily one of my favorite series.

Available at Amazon: Paperback | Hardcover


SASSY – a Cat who needs a home

Sassy was a neighborhood stray who was getting bullied by stronger bigger neighborhood cats and stray dogs.  Once I recognized the pattern of attacks inflicted upon her, I scooped her up, got her some medical attention, and then brought her to the office to recuperate and socialize.  Sassy has calmed down and very much acts like a domesticated cat.  She’s ready for a home.

Sassy is all black, domestic shorthair.  She’s a girl’s girl.  When we first got her into the office, she was nervous around most everybody… unless you were a girl age 10 – 40.  Sassy would hiss at any guy who came near her in the office, but the moment a girl picked her up, Sassy would just melt into her arms, burying her head into the crook of the girl’s elbow and fall asleep.  If you’re looking for an explanation, forget about it.  I love cats like crazy, but I stopped trying to explain their behavior long ago.

Sassy doesn’t like dogs and she’s not a happy camper around aggressive cats.  She’d probably be happy remaining exclusively indoors, but under the right conditions could be an inside-outside cat, too.  She’s been fixed, is up to date on all her shots, and is negative for feline leukemia.  She knows what a litter box is and how to use it.  Sassy is a heavy sleeper.  Chasing string seems to be her favorite pastime.  She’s way happier simply watching birds through the window than she is chasing them.  Some strays just don’t have a good experience outdoors, and when they get the opportunity to be an indoor cat, they embrace it with all their heart; Sassy is likely one of those cats.  She doesn’t want to climb trees; she wants to spend the night watching HBO with you.

Sassy - Still drowsy from a nap

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