Archive | May, 2013

Weekly Vinyl – Gordon Lightfoot

31 May

The Way I Feel
Gordon Lightfoot
Mr. Lightfoot’s sophomore album has been playing for the last several hours on my turntable. I flip the album every 20 minutes or so. I need the exercise. Something I don’t get when listening to CDs or MP3s. This is a brilliantly stark album. A very good singer songwriter is an amazing thing to behold. It is just Gordon’s voice, his guitar. The background accompaniments are so far back in the mix that you sometimes need to struggle to hear them. You are focused on the words, the voice and the simple guitar. Brilliant.

The star of this album is Lightfoot’s Canadian Railroad Trilogy. It clocks in at 6:10. So if you split it into three songs, as a trilogy suggests, it would mean each song is but 2:03ish. The Ramones would be proud. But enough silliness.
I love this album not necessarily for the individual songs but for the aesthetic feeling it evokes. For me it is listening to some AM radio station in Southampton, Ontario as a child in the summer with the wind, birds, crickets and bees providing the background ambiance.  I close my eyes I can almost imagine that I am back there.

Weekly Wine – Misterio

29 May

SONY DSCMisterio Cabernet Sauvignon
13.5% ABV
$8.95 (LCBO)
This is one of my standby wines. I like this wine. It has character. There is a sharpness to it. A little bit of bite. It is just enough to get the senses moving, but not overpowering them. There is very little aftertaste and the little there is quite tame, which is nice considering the spicy bite one gets at the first quaff. It is a very fine wine for the price. Perhaps one of the better wines at this price point — I haven’t gone through all of them yet. It is another wine from Argentina but I won’t make any Falkland – Malvinas cracks this time.
The label is intriguing. The carved mask logo or whatnot. It reminds me of one of the Tintin books where he is in some hellhole South/Central American country during a revolution and a mask serves as some kind of talisman. I read the book about 30 years ago so I have no real clear recollection of the plot or motivation of the characters. The mask strikes me as similar though. Perhaps on a subliminal level that is why I picked up this wine for the first time so many years ago.

An apple is an apple

27 May

I was a parental escort on one of my child’s school trips of dubious educational value when I happened upon a “healthy snack bar” that is supposed to give you an alternative the processed food you get at the “traditional” fast food places.

They had a bagged apple for $1.75 if I recall correctly. Not a whole apple but a few slices of apple. As I’m writing this I wish I had taken a picture of this. Instead, I found a picture of this abomination on the web. (This is not the manufacturer of this product that I saw but it is very similar.)
Perhaps I am naïve but why can’t they sell a whole apple? Without the plastic packaging? Without the carbon dioxide to keep the sliced apple from turning a brown-grey colour? If memory serves me properly an apple is already packaged appropriately. An apple’s package is so bio-degradable that it can be digested. And should be since all the vitamins are in the skin as we all know.
I was baffled by this “healthy choice.” My child shrugged his shoulders and went off site and had poutine (fries, gravy and cheese curds). I had a Gyros.
This is not what was for sale at the “healthy snack bar but very similar.
Whole apples are unhealthy I suppose.

Two birds

26 May

One is real and one is stone. I was in Vienna for about 10 hours in 1992 and saw this scene. I took a good half roll of film of pigeons cavorting with the stone eagles. The one thing that I remember quite clearly was that other people were also taking pictures of these sculptures but were shooing the real birds away. I found that strange and that is why I remember it.

Weekly Vinyl – Gregorianischen Chorälen

24 May

Das Kirchenjahr in Gregorianischen Chorälen
St. Rombaut Chor, Mecheln
Most Gregorian chant music that I have heard sounds like it was recorded at the end of a long hallway. Very heavy on the reverb. The thought here, I suppose, is to replicate the feel of the music in a large open cathedral. I get the sentiment but it leaves the music murky.

This album suffers from the reverb being applied with a very heavy hand. I suspect that this was recorded in the cathedral of St. Rombaut in Mechelen (Mecheln), Belgium, without any audio effects — notably the over-present reverb. On the record, on my speakers it was a bit too much.

The recording features the heavy soothing Gregorian chants that we all know and love but also, female voices, which is refreshing and interesting. I am quite pleased with this disk as it is of extremely good quality. Not one pop and no hiss. This is another one of my acquisitions in Switzerland as the record says “Made is Switzerland” and this is the only English that sullies this disk.

Weekly Wine – Merlot

22 May

SONY DSC Philippe De Rothschild Merlot VDP
13.5% ABV
$9.95 (LCBO)
Ah ha… the first French wine on this list. And one with a name — Philippe De Rothschild. The label is funky but classic. The script writing says Merlot. No need for a fancy name if you are a French wine I suppose. But then comes the real rub. This is ordinary wine. For me, nothing really stands out about this wine. It is pure plonk that knows it is plonk. This is a wine without personality.
From what I understand in France there is Vin-bon and Vin –ordinaire. Good-wine and ordinary wine. I expect that there is also bad wine but they just don’t admit it. This wine is firmly in the ordinary bracket. With the name on the bottle and the compelling label I was expecting a bit more character and drama from this wine and not a generic wine flavour.
Is it bad – No. Will I buy it again — yes, to take it to people’s houses who will be impressed by the label, the name on the label and because it is French.

Sparks and snuggling

22 May

It has been a busy few days. The Toronto mayor, my mayor, who is an embarrassment on a good day is allegedly videotaped smoking crack. Canada’s Prime Minister is embroiled in another controversy involving cronyism. This one will stick to him. The US is mired in stagnation and who knows what is going on in Europe or anywhere else these days.

However, the highlight of my weekend was when I saw pigeons copulating. Right on my neighbours garage roof. It was Victoria Day in Toronto, Canada on Monday— the first long-weekend of the summer. A day when cottage owners are stuck battling traffic to get home and the “Summer Homeless” are at home finishing spring cleaning and getting ready for the simmer.

We were enjoying dinner when the kids noticed two pigeons pecking at each other — kissing. That lasted for a good 20 minutes before one mounted the other for about 5 seconds and they went back to pecking each other and then ignoring each other.

That evening there were fireworks and a thunderstorm.


Not Pandas

19 May

The Toronto Zoo has pandas. On loan of course. These aren’t pandas. They are elephants. They are looking for a home because the Toronto Zoo can’t afford to keep them into retirement for some reason. They are suppose to go somewhere but the city has been discussing this for a long time and it has become very confusing – to the casual observer. I have no idea what they decided. Or if they decided something. Anything. I would rather see an elephant than a panda.


Weekly Vinyl — Booker T & the MG’s

17 May

And Now!
Booker T & The MGs
Love this album. The bass. The drums. The guitar. The keys – regular and electric piano and of course the Hammond organ. Fantastic. The simplicity and elegance of this music is outstanding. The songs are short — there is no reason to belabour the point. Booker T. & The MG’s were a baking band for countless of singers in Memphis. That, I summarise, is why there is no vocal in their recordings. Just the music. Just the groove. Brilliant. Interesting to note that this record includes their cover of the classic Gershwin and Heyward song “Summertime” — a song that has been butchered and defiled by countless of wannabe singers. It is so nice to hear a version of this classic without someone overdramatically squawking on top of the music.
My record has enough pops and scratches that make it sound authentic and real. I would hate to have to listen to this as a “Digitally Cleaned and Enhanced” version. Damn. I wish I had a mono record player to really get the vibe down right.

Weekly Wine – Castaño

15 May

SONY DSCBodegas Castaño La Casona Monastrell

13.5% ABV
$8.95 (LCBO)

Nice first taste. Rather pleasant but a little bit dry. Well, it is dry read wine after all. This wine is subtle. It is very nice, with food or solo imbibing. After my second glass I felt flushed. Don’t know if it is the wine, the music I’m listening to (Jack White), or the time of the day. (Very late or very early depending on your perspective.)  The wine leaves a little bit at the tip of my tongue and that may be the grapes that this wine is made from. It is a grape called Monastrell. Flipping to the Internet I find that this is also called Mourvèdre or Mataró and it is a popular wine variety mainly grown in Spain but also in France, USA (Washington and California) and Australia. I’ve never heard of this grape  before reading the wines label and now reading the Internet I find that it is ion decline because it is a grape that is hard to grow and growers are replacing tit with the more well known Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay grapes. I tend to buy wines by the type of grape that forms the wine that I enjoy drinking. I like this grape. Save this grape. Drink this wine.