Archive | August, 2015

Steps to church

30 Aug


There are famous steps to Sacre Coeur in Paris. Those are in front. These steps are at the side and are actually very nice… they come from a cool little area of town.

Weekly Vinyl – Macalla

28 Aug


Clannad was a band that one heard over and over at many parties back in the late eighties. I have not heard this band’s music since – I think.
I was surprised when listening to this album. I was expecting Celtic mysticism and melodically meandering music.
What you have here is rather standard mid-80s pop. It’s OK but not amazing. I was looking forward to some Enya type music – she, Enya, is related to several of Clannad members and was a member of the band.
But she’s not here on this album.

Weekly Wine – Moscato

26 Aug

Barefoot Moscato
9% ABV
$9.95 (LCBO) 

This is an OK wine. It is nice when well chilled and OK at regular room temperature. It is a nice light wine that has a quite fruity flavour that imparts a sweetness to it. But it is not really a sweet wine. It is not really dry.
This wine confuses me.
I do not know if I like it. I do not know if I dislike it. Hate and love are too strong of words to use for this wine as its colour, flavour and alcohol content are quite week.
The label says that it is “deliciously sweet.” It is not too delicious nor is it sweet.
It, is, as I said at the top, an OK wine. Just under ten bucks regular price but it was on sale so I picked it up for $8.95.
That’s a sweet deal.



Is all politics stupid?

24 Aug

In most cases when a writer poses a question, the answer is “no.”
A friend of mine was at a political rally and insisted on texting me the stupid thing some such politician was saying. I was not very interested in this because I have come to the conclusion that all politicians say stupid things. I had just come from the US and had a daily dose of Donald “I’ll solve America’s immigration problem within four years” Trump.
I have to admit, I liked listening to his speechifying. It was great entertainment.
But he is not conveying ideas or philosophy. What his is saying is just a random collection of talking points meant to rile up a target audience. It is working. Trump does this well.
But in essence most politicians do this. Obama’s Hope and Change. There are countless of examples.
Some people are calling Trump stupid for saying what he is saying but really, we are stupid for lapping it up. It is damn fun if it were not so scary. His and most other politician’s speeches are there to rally the base and are not intended to have the people, the voters, the citizens, aspire to lofty ideals. It is our fault that we have let it happen.
How to stop this and reverse the tide is a very big question.
Meanwhile – the political circus goes on.

St. Andrews

23 Aug


In honour of Ukrainian independence day, here’s a shot of St. Andrews church in Kyiv. The picture is taken from below on Andriyivskiy Descent – an ancient cobblestone street that is a must see when you come to this city.

Weekly Vinyl – To France

21 Aug

To France
Mike Oldfield

Here is an extended 12-inch LP containing three gems from Mike Oldfield.
This version of his hit “To France” is a minute longer than the original that is found on the album Discovery. The song itself is a very nice ditty about romance and going to France. It has great guitar work and very nice hooks, The extended version extends these with a mid-section that is more dance oriented but not quite. It would well on dance floors in the 80s. Still a great tune.
“In the Pool” is a very typical Mike Oldfield tune. You can hear it in the first couple of beats – especially when the acoustic guitar starts – the soaring electric guitars are a dead giveaway. It is a complex but joyous instrumental composition. There is bubbling noise in the background and an electronic backing beat which sounds a bit like a toad.
“Bones” is a bit of a weird composition where it jumps from theme to theme. Some of these themes are expanded in later Oldfield pieces – notably in Tubular Bells 2 and 3. I think this was just added to add substance to the extended EP.

Weekly Wine – Macedonian Merlot

19 Aug


Ezimit Merlot
13% ABV
$7.95 (LCBO)
I saw this in the LCBO and had to pick it up. It was the right price – first off. And I have never had, to my immediate knowledge, wine from Macedonia.
The wine comes in a rather fancy bottle – it has one of those fancy fluted bottle openings on top. It looks nice but I`ve never seen an expensive bottle with this feature. Unwrapping the bottle, the first thing that strikes me is the cork. It is not a natural cork but one of those artificial plastic ones. This one has a weird feel to it. The top has the texture of expandable foam – the kind you use to insulate your house or fill the gaps between your wall and windows and doors.
As for the wine…
It is barely passable. It tastes of good homemade wine – from the hills and valleys of Macedonia. It is interesting, but only because it is from Macedonia – land of Alexander the Great.

The Internet – a good thing

17 Aug

I’ve been online for about 20 years. I think it was in the summer of 1995 that I first caught onto this thing called the Internet. It was slow and cumbersome but it did have some uses even back then. Email was the big thing and still is. Web sites were primitive but held a whole bunch of information with no ads or frustrating blind dead ends. I made my first website in 1996 for a magazine I started with a friend. All my journalist friends said – what’s that gonna get you…
The internet is still slowish (we expect it to be blindingly fast) and cumbersome (Ads, popups and other pains). But it is a source of entertainment and information. The information part is what I am still in awe of. Recently a lithium –ion battery of mine stopped working. The internet gave me multiple remedies to get it working again – success, the battery is alive. My lens to my DSLR stopped working – people on the internet have posts on why that lens is a piece of kaka and I should be happy that it worked for so long. There are directions and reviews of stuff and things. I could go on.
It’s all a bit much though and you do need a break from all this information.
Hence my wine and album reviews.


16 Aug


What a great name for a business.
Makes you want to start …

Weekly Vinyl – JFK speaks

14 Aug

John Fitzgerald Kennedy 1917 – 1963
John Fitzgerald Kennedy


I believe I got this one at a Goodwill store. I went for the image and for the historical context. As I’m listening to this album now, in the context of the run up to the 2016 US presidential elections with the drawn out primaries and Donald Trump… I have to say … they don’t make them like they used to.
Here was a guy who had hope and power on his side – stirring speeches. It is a refreshing contrast to the drivel we hear these days – from both US and Canadian politicians. There are no forced soundbites. There is no built in spin. There are no talking points. You can hear JFK espouse clear ideas which will be used to move the country forward.
And yes, the “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” speech is here. If a politician would say these words now he would be pilloried quickly by all sides.
To be fair, one has to really concentrate when listening to this album – these are original recordings made when the technology was quite lacking. .