Archive | December, 2013

Iced grass

29 Dec

We had a bit of an ice storm here and many people ended up without power. Thankfully we were OK.
I had grass growing in a nice boot shaped pot. It came out quite well after the storm.

Weekly Vinyl – U2

27 Dec

Under a blood red sky
I love live albums. They capture the raw energy of the band or artist. I know that there is still some studio work done to “correct” and “enhance” the sound, but the basic energy is there.
This U2 album is a good example of this energy. Recorded in 1983 this was still a smaller and more humbler U2. They were a great band on the rise but had not yet achieved superstardom.
The sound is raw and straightforward. The band is tight. There is exhuberance in the songs. There is a fantastic energy here. This live album captures U2 at its early peak. Listening to this album now one can understand why U2 made it big. I really want to go see them now in concert. But as they were 30 years ago. And as I was 30 years ago.
The only complaint I have about this album is that there is only 8 songs here. The total time is less that 36 minutes.
I know that this is a “Mini LP” sold a a “special low price” so I should not be surprised.
But that is the mark of a great album – You want to hear more.

Weekly Wine – XOXO

25 Dec

SONY DSCXOXO Shiraz Cabernet
Canada (Kinda)
13% ABV
95 (LCBO)

As I took the first few sips of this wine I thought to my self – Not bad, not interesting wine but quite inoffensive with no harsh over tones or aftertastes.
Then I read the label and I got rather upset.
This wine is made from “Imported and domestic” grapes – so they were grown somewhere on this earth I suppose as viticulture in outer space is not yet developed.
It is cellared in either Kelowna, British Columbia, Grimsby, Ontario or Truro, Nova Scotia. No one knows.
This is marketing wine with a nice label and cute name. It has been engineered to be inoffensive and agreeable. At the $10 price point I realize that I should not be expecting too much.
There are better wines out there.
There are more interesting wines out there.
There are cheaper wines out there.
There are many wines which share all three above characteristics an yet have a provenience that is not a mystery.
This company can’t even tell me where it was cellared!

The more I think about it – the worse the wine tastes.



Who is to blame?

23 Dec

A while ago I read an article on the BBC that stated that the Internet was getting in the way of couples making hay in the boudoir.
So to speak.
I’m sure the scientists did their research and have their stats.
But… It is more than just fetching amour. It is altering the way we live. This is especially true when something fascinating is going on in the world.
My life has been a shambles recently because of the events in Ukraine.
To explain – Many Ukrainians, are protesting in Kyiv because the president, Yanukovich, and government had decided in the last minute to not sign a trade agreement with the European Union. They are also their because this government is beyond corrupt. They want the rule of law to reign.
Because of the Internet you can watch these protests live. You can see, live from the comfort of your home, how the riot police move in on the peaceful protesters. You can see, live, how these protesters stand up to the riot police until they, the police, retreat.
This was all happening in the early hours. I was not getting much sleep and as a consequence, I got sick. Most of my Ukrainian friends are also afflicted with maladies.
It is the Internets fault for making this information available.

But most of all … It is Yanukovich’s fault.

Where am I?

22 Dec

I had the good fortune to visit Paris and Chicago in the last little while.
Where would you think this photo was taken?

Weekly Vinyl – Warm Jets

21 Dec

Here come the warm jets
Brian Eno






From the first sounds to the last note, this album is fantastic.
The music falls between pop, rock, experimental, alternative…
It is exquisitely unique. Each song is connected by this uniqueness. Each song sounds completely different in mood and tone than the others yet somehow sounds like it belongs on this album.
There is no mistaking that this album is from the early 1970s because of the raw guitar sounds, lack of overreaching synthesizers, no autotune (you hear the real voice) and simple but effective production. It is an album from the 70s but it is not dated – the music is fantastic.

Find it, buy it, enjoy it.

Weekly Wine – Santa Carolina

18 Dec

 SONY DSCSanta Carolina Merlot
$8.95 (LCBO)

A few weeks ago I wrote about a friend who swears by Chilean wine. I’m sure he means this one. This is a good one. Not excellent… but for the price it is very good.
There is a harshness in the initial sip that slightly bothers me. The harshness lingers a bit. It then turns into this dryness which is not unpleasant but is noticeable. This is a very minor observation but it does ring a bell in the consciousness. The strange thing is is that it does not bother me too much. I have just noticed it tonight. Waiting a couple of minutes after having a sip, the time it takes to think up and type two sentences, the dryness dissipates and a nice flavour is left.
This is a good average wine. Slightly above the average in this price range but it doesn’t have a stand-out character to really lift it above the fray.

Weekly Vinyl – Neuromantic

13 Dec

Yukihiro Takahashi






This is a brilliant album. About half a year ago I reviewed Klaus Schulze`s Dune and noted that, although it is definitely in the experimental-electric realm of music, it is a worthy precursor to the electro-pop that we listen to now.
Well the good stuff anyway.
Takahashi`s music is the bridge between the two worlds- pop and experimental. He was a key member of Japan`s Yellow Magic Orchestra that did as much for modern music as Kraftwerk but has never gotten the credit, nor the legendary status, that the German band garners.
How great is this album? It is still fresh even after 30 some years. The songs could be newly minted. In fact, the first song on this album, “Glass”, has a riff that sounds like Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky”. For real.
It is an album that one could dance to. One wants to dance. But it is also one that one has to listen carefully to. There is great musicianship here. There are great textures in the music – especially where the analogue and digital sounds interplay with each other.
A glorious album – listen to it if you can.

Weekly Wine – Yvon Mau

11 Dec

????????Yvon Mau Merlot VDP
$8.95 (LCBO)

Another great wine from France. Another great affordable wine from France.
It is a fine wine. It has a fine taste. There is really nothing that one cane fault with this wine.
Sure, some taste buds on the upper-left side of my tongue are vibrating and sending my brains some signals. But I am ignoring that signal because I do not understand it.
The strange sensation appears briefly and then vanishes.
I like the fact that the label has “Depuis 1897” on it. That is gravitas baby. 30 years younger than Canada. It is a very respectable label.
The back label has a bunch of writing on it that I passed on reading because I was busy drinking the wine. Wine is not a cereal box and I am not a toddler eating (pre-fermented) sugar and reading propaganda and the riboflavin(?) content of what I am eating. The front label should entice me – the back label is just for statistics.
This is a nice wine.
I shudder to think that I used to not buy French wine because of the nuclear testing and that little thing in New Zealand. My bad – good wine is good wine and this is good wine.

Weekly Vinyl – Sidi Tal’ – Сиди Таль

6 Dec

From the programs of concerts
Sidi Tal’ – Сиди Таль
I’m not 100 per cent sure how I got this album but It came from Ukraine. Did I buy it or was it given to me – that is a mystery.
This is an album by a noted Yiddish-Soviet artist, Sidi Tal. The album contains stories and songs. I understand none of this – but this is kind-of-like listening to Edith Piaf for most of the non-French-speaking world. The strong emotions of the artist come through beyond the barrier of language.
As I listen to this album, I hear the Eastern European pathos emerge. I recognize the rythm of the language. Sidi Tal lived worked and died in Western Ukraine so the mood and feeling of her storytelling and her songs are very well known to me. I can identify with what she is going on about although I understand not one word.
This is a great discovery in my collection – I had completely forgotten that I had such an album.