Archive | March, 2015

La tour

29 Mar

Spring is here and my thoughts turn to France. I was in Paris in the fall. This shot was taken from the Galeries Lafayette roof. I love the colours. So Paris.

Weekly Vinyl – Odyssey

27 Mar

The Odyssey
David Bedford
I bought this album way back in the days when I was really into Mike Oldfield.
David Bedford orchestrated his Tubuar Bells composition and made it a real “classical” album.
What is this then?
Mike Oldfield plays guitars on this.As does Andy Summers. He’s from The Police.
This is a very interesting album. Where Tubular Bells was more prog-rock with a hint of classical music, this is classical music with a dollop of prog-rock.
There are two great guitarists trading licks with the orchestra but what stands out are they synthesizers. What stands out is how this whole thing holds together wonderfully.
It is supposed to be a homage to Homer’s “The Odyssey” and I’ve listened to it. But I don’t really hear it.
Yet it is a great piece of music notwithstanding.

Weekly Wine – Tic Tok

25 Mar

SONY DSCTic Tok Pocketwatch Cabernet Sauvignon
14% ABV
$8.95 (LCBO)

The name of this wine…
The label…
What’s the word … whimsical?
That’s it.
An Aussie wine for under ten bucks. I have not been let down by any Australian wine. And very few wines, purchased at the LCBO for under a sawbuck, have left me disappointed.
I took this wine to a friend’s house to cheer the start of the Formula One season which happened, by coincidence, in Australia.
The race had a few moments but was rather unspectacular.
On the other hand – the wine was spectacular for all the wrong reasons.
It is not good. Syrupy sweet. Heavy without the flavour. Fruity yes – but the fruit that comes from the heavily discounted bin.
There was a time that I considered spilling this wine out – but the race still had a bit to run and there were no other options.

Love the fake

22 Mar

SONY DSCIt is quite funny to note that I like Las Vegas.
I don’t like to gamble. I don’t really get into the Las Vegas shows.
What I love about the place is the fake.
The gloss of opulence.
The overwhelming excess of the trivial.
The mask, the semblance of success.
The veneer of luxury.
The façade of grandeur.
These elements are usually not evident because of the excess one is bombarded with. (The nice pleasant dry weather helps as well.)
But occasionally one sees the cracks in the fantasy that is Vegas.
On a recent trip I was able to see these cracks. There were guys painting bricks onto the Venetian hotel tower.
I thought they were laying brick at first – but that would not fit into the aura of Vegas – to use real bricks.

Weekly Vinyl – The Who by Numbers

20 Mar

The Who by Numbers
The Who
This is not the most well known The Who album.
But before I begin – it is weird to write The Who in the previous sentence. You would normally say “…most well known Who album…” skipping the The. But the full name is The Who. Not Who.
That had to be said…
But this album is weird. Only a few songs really stand out – “Slip Kid” the first song on side one is a great tune. Powerful, full of passion. “Squeeze Box” can be viewed initially like a joke tune because of the lyrics but it is a very well written tune. I lifted the needle up and played the song again – it is quite an infective tune.
The rest of the album meanders. It is OK.
Just OK…

Weekly Wine – Riesling Gewurztraminer

18 Mar

SONY DSCHardys Stamp Series Riesling Gewurztraminer
13% ABV
$9.90 (LCBO)

I wasn’t expecting much from this wine.
I was not expecting grimaces and loathing.
I was not expecting love and joy.
Australian wines have gone upmarket in recent years. They came in as cheap (inexpensive – affordable – accessible) wines several years ago. But now they are up there – costing as much as the “good stuff’” – well the more expensive stuff.
Australian wine is good, Always has been – as far as I know.
This Hardy’s Stamp series is interesting. I believe they used to be in the 12 to 15 dollar range. They seem to have come down in price to get that elusive market share. The quality is the same from what I can tell.
This white wine is a fair wine. Not too heavy but not light. Rather sweetish, but not too much that it makes ones teeth hurt.
It’s a “meh” wine.
OK for the price.

Atlanta evening

15 Mar

Whenever I go to a new city, I try to find something excellent about it. I was in Atlanta a while ago but I was basically stuck between my hotel and the conference center. I got this nice shot from my hotel window – that made up for it. As did the great fried chicken I had in that city.

Weekly Vinyl – Concert Band

13 Mar

The Best of ‘79
Concert Band
Not sure where I got this album. Not sure why I have this album.
As I sit and listen to this album I am questioning why I’m listening to it.
But it is in my collection so I must…
This is a two album collection of sappy orchestral show tunes. It all sounds like a bunch of musical overtures stuck together. They are mostly medleys stuck together so you are never too clear on what you are hearing. Especially since they all sound eerily similar.
This album drips of 1970s maudlin orchestration. This is Muzak in spades – somewhat familiar but ultimately forgettable.
I’m sure there are people who would love this album and really enjoy this music.
I’m not one of them.

As a after note – the album is titled “Best of ‘79” yet was produced and published in 1978.


Weekly Wine – Mateus

11 Mar

Year:  N/A
11% ABV
$9.60 (LCBO)

This is actually the 100th wine that I have reviewed. Hurrah! I saved this Mateus Rose for the 100th bottle because for some reason this wine is the definition of cheap. When I mentioned that I was to do reviews of inexpensive wines to friends, they would inevitably say something to the tune of, “What. Stuff like Mateus?”
I drank this wine at a cottage with snowbanks surrounding the place. The wine got chilled in a pile of snow. I know that this is not the ideal situation to drink it, but if it works here then it should work anywhere.
I was surprized that it is effervescent – like a vino verde, but it is not classified as such. The bottle tells me it is semi-sparkling. I did not know that and had obviously forgotten as I have not had Mateus in eons. The bubbles are nice and light and match the flavour which is very delicate and not too sweet.
Drinking it is like drinking one of those wine coolers – a light semi-sweet flavour which is refreshing on a hot day. It was hot in the cottage because of the wood burning stove so this wine fit the bill. I was surprised.

Maidan a year later

8 Mar


It was a bit over a year ago that the brave citizens of Ukraine overthrew the corrupt Yanukovich regime. There is a war there now as Russian forces attempt to destabilize Ukraine. I was there last August and saw the Maidan and could not imagine what it was like for the protesters in the freezing cold nights with security forces attacking. This barricade on Institutska ,was one of the main battle points, where many a brave unarmed protester laid down their lives for an independent Ukraine. There was still an uneasy pall of dread that hung over this area even though it was half a year after the events and it was bright and sunny and 30 degrees Celsius.