Archive | May, 2013

Making space sexy

13 May

I tried to ignore this but… Chris Hadfield, the commander of the International Space Station, is making space cool — even sexy, in its way.

Making a song with the remnants of the Barenaked Ladies was OK. The outer edge of relevance and hipness.
But making an outer space Space Oddity.

In “space”.
Not lip-synced.
Commander Hadfield is singing.
Very cool.
Do my kids want to go to space? They haven’t seen the video yet. But they will want to. I want to. (Go to space.)
But I’ll take an electric guitar. And a big amp. If they let me.
I’ll take a kazoo — if I could go.
We all want to go to space now.
Thanks, Cmdr. Hadfield.

Rome from the air

12 May

PLRo02
This is a shot of some district of Rome. I was in a Hungarian (MALEV) Tupolev on my way to Ukraine. The aircraft was horrible, as all Tupolevs are, and the flight was insane. But the views were spectacular as for some reason, probably technical, the plane did not flight very high and we were afforded brilliant views on our flight to L’viv, Ukraine.

Weekly Vinyl – Tschaikowsky

10 May

Tschaikowsky – Symphony No.4 in F minor
Orchestre National de la Radiodiffusion- Télévision Français Paris
Paul Kletzki – conductor
(1966)
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Here’s another one that I got is Switzerland. How many did I bring back from there? I figure I did get this in Switzerland because it is a French record and the writing is in German and French. I rationalize that I picked this up because of the cover. (I like the way Tchaikovsky – Tschaikowsky is spelled.) Mostly, I took this because I love the cover. It looks like it was done in crayon. It looks like a fall scene of a field on the Western Front in France during World War I. That’s the impression I get. The music is very complementary to the cover. It has the ambiance of a nice late October early November storm. The winter is front moving in. The wind is howling, the sky is combative, yet you are warm behind the window of your home. Like a storm there are highs and lows and swirling sounds. I have a great feeling when I’m listening to this now even though it is spring.

Weekly Wine – JP

8 May

SONY DSCBacalhôa JP Red

2012
Portugal
750ml
13.5% ABV
$8.95 (LCBO)

I call this wine JP Azeitão. The LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) calls this wine Bacalhôa JP Red. They go for the company name — I choose to call it for the region. Whatever. What intrigued me about this wine was a little cheap paper circular attachment to the bottle that proudly proclaimed “Portugal’s #1 Wine.”
I instinctively reached out for the bottle. Holding it in my hand I had a sense of doom. The #1 wine in Portugal. Do I drink the #1 beer in Canada? No — it’s not good. Same with the #1 beer in the U.S. – not drinkable. Being #1 is not a note of quality, but usually means cheap, passable and plentiful.
I bought the bottle. How could I resist.
There is a specific taste to Portuguese wines. This one has it. It has this earthy character. It is heavy — but not too much. You feel it. The taste is upfront and powerful. This is not a light wine nor is it subtle. Surprisingly it does not leave an unpleasant aftertaste.
The first bottle I had of this wine was a 2011 (the bottle pictured). The one I am completing now is a 2012. My memories of the taste of the 2011 are different than the ones I’m having now. The 2011 was more pronounced than this one is. I drank it about a month ago so I have a distinct memory of it. Perhaps the 2012 vintage is smoother and a bit more refined. I never realise that wines of this ilk can vary so much by year. I can now hold my head high amongst wine snobs.

Reusing, recycling, reinventing

7 May

I’ve had an old iMac G3 that has been gathering dust. Tossing it is not in my blood but it was really limited to what it could do. Surfing the web, or doing anything Internet related, was becoming impossible. I could sell it but I would probably not get much for it, even though some people on Craigslist are asking a king’s ransom for theirs. I’ve always liked the design of this iMac. It is my second favourite iMac design after the iMac G4 design (the “Lampshade”).
Turning it into an aquarium? Well that’s been done with the baby Macs and I don’t need another aquarium. Taking a good look at it, I came up with the what I think is brilliant (but might be foolhardy) idea of converting it into a guitar amp.
I looked around at amp component prices and did not like what I saw. So I went on Craigslist, or Kijiji, and bought a used Fender/Squire Sidekick amp for $40.

Now to figure out how to proceed and how to document it all…
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Pysanky

5 May

Pys01
Since it is Ukrainian Easter today (Easter according to the Julian calendar), I’m putting up a photograph of some pagan objets that were Christianized just like the pagans of old. Alas, I did not make these pysanky but I did nip the wheat from a farmers field and I cut the pussy willow from my parent’s house.

Weekly Vinyl – Lighthouse Live!

3 May

Lighthouse Live!
Lighthouse
(1972)
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Big band hippies here. This is a live recording of a longhaired Canadian band playing New York’s Carnegie Hall in the dead of winter. Just listening to the music you can hear that this is a big band. The record lists 12 musicians although for some reason two of them are in a different font. Musically, this is a bit of a grab bag. The sound is very horn heavy at times and that gives it a big band feel. The music is overblown (pun intended) and grandiose without being remarkable. It is OK for what it is. It sounds dated. Long-winded, meticulously planned self-indulgent well orchestrated sound jams. Must have been a great blast to be in the band. Probably fun to be in the audience as well. It comes across as a bit flat on the album. This is the type of music that punk (and in a tangential sense disco) was rebelling against.
One feature of this album irritates me. As a double album, there are four sides — this is self-evident but why oh why did they put side one and four on one disk and side two and three on the other. This is pointless and counter-intuitive.

Food for appetite

2 May

Got a flyer in today from prominent office supply store whose name is derived from the things that go into a stapler. There’s a large item headlined “food: Staples also satisfies appetites.” Well the picture is of a microwavable portion of Kraft dinner macaroni and cheese and two packages of Oreo cookies. Seriously. That will satisfy an appetite. I have no aversion to these food items but saying that this will satisfy an appetite is stretching it. No one really expects that Staples will be a source for healthy food (office sized individually wrapped freeze dried broccoli) but it strikes me odd that this would have a prominent place at  this store.

Weekly Wine – Cesari

1 May

SONY DSCCesari Merlot Delle Venezie
2012
Italy
750ml
12% ABV
$7.65 (LCBO)

Here’s a wine that bites back. The first taste is harsh. There is a distinct aftertaste. Not exactly a home made wine but it gives that impression. It’s an interesting taste. Definitely a wine you want with food, to subdue the wine a bit.  When you drink it without food, the taste keeps on biting — this does not go away. This harshness dissipates but accumulates slowly and you get an acidic taste in your mouth. It is not too pleasant. This is probably due to the sulphites in the wine. Most wines have natural sulphites and even have sulphites added to it to arrest fermentation and preserve the wine. So this acidity cannot be just due to this additive. I guess it’s just this type of wine. It is drinkable — but just.