Prince Toronto home still reflects his personality

Entertainment Room at Prince's former Toronto homeThe home Prince once owned in Toronto still bears the imprint of his personality. This partly reflects Prince’s decorating tastes, but undoubtedly the house attracted him in the first place because of its design. Thematically suffused with circles and curves, the building gives the impression that Prince had the house built specifically for him. But, in fact, the house was built long before Prince even dreamed of owning property in Toronto. Half-moon bay windows jut out from the facade. A circular transom window perches above the entry door, where the ceiling arches over a rose compass that decorates the marble floor. A staircase spirals down to the lower level. Curved walls grace the master bedroom, entered through an arched doorway. A musical flow permeates the structure, like notes cascading down a waterfall. Continue reading →

Victorian-era ghost stories about dark divination

Dark Divinations: fourteen stories about Victorian Press Presents: Dark Divinations edited by Naching T. Kassa. Book Trailer: It’s the height of Queen Victoria’s rule. Fog swirls in the gas-lit streets, while in the parlor, hands are linked. Pale and expectant faces gaze upon a woman, her eyes closed and shoulders slumped. The medium speaks, her tone hollow and inhuman. The seance has begun. Join us as we explore fourteen frightening tales of Victorian horror, each centered around a method of divination. Can the reading of tea leaves influence the future? Can dreams keep a soldier from death in the Crimea? Can a pocket watch foretell a deadly family curse? From entrail reading and fortune-telling machines to prophetic spiders and voodoo spells, sometimes the future is better left unknown. Choose your fate. Choose your DARK DIVINATION. What follows below is an excerpt from my story “The Bell.” Continue reading →

Great musical humor in “I Love Lucy”

Lucy and EthelSitcoms do not often use musical humor. “I Love Lucy,” by contrast, represents a high watermark of such humor. The reason? The show’s premise involves a bandleader and his bumbling wife who strives to get into show business. The combination of Lucille Ball’s comedic timing, the writing, and the chemistry between the four primary actors delivered iconic episodes that remain widely watched over half a century after they first aired. Often, the comedy originates in the contrast between what is going on musically and what is going on visually. Here is an overview of the episodes that used musical humor. While there are more episodes than this in which humor occurs during musical numbers (such as the episode where Ricky learns Lucy is pregnant while serenading the audience), I’ve focused on those episodes where music is used specifically for humorous effect. Continue reading →

New book celebrates subversive music throughout history

Music: A Subversive HistoryIn Music: A Subversive History, Ted Gioia makes the case that music has challenged cultural norms throughout the ages. This constant reinvention not only helps music flower artistically but facilitates cultural change. What frightens the establishment in one generation gets embraced (and often co-opted) by the establishment a generation or more later. Gioia calls this force “creative destruction.” Music helps tear down walls, liberating society from arbitrary codes designed to control behavior. Tracing this pattern through four thousand years of history, Gioia shows how the force of change usually originates in outsiders and marginalized groups. I like the description from the dust jacket: “Music is essential reading for anyone interested in the hidden sources of music’s timeless power, from Sappho to the Sex Pistols to Spotify.” Continue reading →