Archive | December, 2016

Weekly Vinyl – King Crimson

30 Dec

Young Person’s Guide to King Crimson
King Crimson
To call this disc a “best-of record” would be to underrate it. It is more than a “best-of” compilation. It has an oddity and a rarity. Just one of each mind you.
To refer to it as a “guide” as the title suggests would be to fall into the preposterous overblown pretentiousness that prog-rock usually mired itself in.
So what is this then?
Well for one, it is great to hear Greg Lake’s voice again – he sadly passed away December 7, 2016. Another great musician that was lost this year.
For another – it is great to hear this music again.
This album is the novel that Robert Fripp, the guitarist and force behind King Crimson, was writing through this first incarnation. He edited out some of the bits for this compilation and presents a vision of what King Crimson was about. It is a distillation. Here is the essence.
And it is a good essence.


Weekly Wine – Sawmill rose

28 Dec

smcwzSawmill Creek White Zinfandel
Year: N/A
Canada and international
11.5% ABV
$9.95 (Alberta)

I’ve been harping about hybrid wines (Canadian wines bottled from a blend of Canadian and international wines) for a while. I have not really found one I liked.
On a trip to Alberta I sampled a bunch of Sawmill Creek wines and they were largely uninspired, unimaginative and in general not very good. Some ended up flushed down the drain as there was no point in further drinking of the wine.
This wine is a bit different. We’ll it’s still not very good and I would not buy it again. It is drinkable. It has a medium body and is rather sweet. But the sweetness is not to over the top – it is actually quite nice.
Unlike the other wines, there is a nice bouquet of flavours here. You can taste the peach, the berries, the melons.
It is not that bad of a wine if I think about it.
The best of a bad bunch that I bought in Alberta.

Good Cheer

26 Dec

I had to think long and hard before writing this.
It’s been that kind of year.
There have been many good things but they have been overshadowed…
I can make a list but it is Christmas.
New Years.
So, Good Cheer.
Why not.
Good Cheer to all.

Chrismas Castles

25 Dec


So its Chrismas. Here is a nice sand castle from Cuba.
It was taken in November a few years back but I figured with winter starting to bight a picture of a nice sand castle is in order.

Weekly Vinyl – Polish Carols

23 Dec

Mazowsze Spiewa Koledy/ Mazowsze Sings Christmas Carols
I normally choose albums to review randomly from the rack of records that I have. I decided to cheat a bit and choose one with Christmas carols due to it being Christmas and all and the fact that I had a bit of a rant a while back about Christmas music in the shopping areas of North America. I grabbed a bunch of Christmas records and randomly chose one, so there is a bit of random feel to this anyway.
Rondom chose well as this is a recording of the relatively famous Polish song and dance ensemble Mazowsze singing carols. (BTW – it is pronounced Ma-zov-sheh.)
The recording is an old one and rather muddy with a bit too much reverb – no doubt natural and not enhanced. The muddiness probably stems from the crappy microphones that existed at that time behind the Iron Curtain.
But the muddiness and reverb give an ethereal quality to this recording. As you listen to this you can imagine that you are standing in a freezing cold old gothic church in Poland during midnight Mass listening to a great choir.
The carols here are fantastic and a much needed relief from Frosty and Rudolph.


Weekly Wine – Merlot Creek

21 Dec

smcmSawmill Creek Merlot
Year: N/A
Canada and international
12.5% ABV
$9.95 (Alberta)

This one has a cork. I’ve tried other Sawmill Creek wines previously and they were unremarkable and barely drinkable.
The others were screw caps, so does the cork on the bottle ad a bit of gravitas? Does it improve the experience? The taste?
It is another unremarkable wine. This medium bodied wine is a bit spicy and a bit sour. I cannot make out any of the flavours – it was wine wined flavoured wine. The spice and sourness probably comes from the sulphites in this mix and not from any of the fermented grapes that were blended to produce this wine. These wines could be from anywhere.
I should stop drinking these hybrid wines, but I’m forever an optimist hoping against hope that a good one will be found. This will be a difficult task, as the wines blended to make these hybrid swills are not of the highest quality.
As for this wine, I’m contemplating whether to nurse this bottle to the final conclusion, and the inevitable headache one gets from bad wines, or pour it into the loo.

Tropical beer

19 Dec

I brought some beer back from Jamaica – six cans of Red Stripe.
The beer tasted great on the beach in Jamaica.
My friend brought me some beer from Mexico – six cans of Dos Equis.
The beer tasted great the last time I had it on a beach in Mexico.
As I drink these beers at home, looking forlornly at the winterscape outside my window, the beers are just OK. They do not take me back to the beach. They do not make me pine for the beach.
The beers were good there, in the heat and humidity. Here, I want mere body, more hops. I want a good well flavoured beer. I won’t spill these out but I will seek out better drink for the winter.

Ungrateful crabs

18 Dec

2crabsI was walking along a beach,
minding my own business,
when out of a hole,
these two crabs popped out.
They scurried about while I was transfixed.
Then they posed for this picture.
I took this picture and I thanked them.
They crawled back into their hole without saying, “you’re welcome.”

Weekly Vinyl – Elvis

16 Dec

Armed Forces
Elvis Costello & The Attractions
Elvis Costello is a great songwriter.
I could finish the review just with that statement, but that would not be fair.
I heard about Costello just as his first album was making it big. It was also but a few weeks after Elvis Presley died. I’ve always been surprised that the “Elvis is still alive” conspiracy people have not made that connection.
This is his third album – he made a bunch in quick succession early in his career – and it quite interesting as it is a bit more lush and arranged than his previous works that to my mind were a bit sparser.
There are good songs here – Costello commenting about the world in Oliver’s Army or relationships – Accidents will Happen.
A great album from a great songwriter.

Weekly Wine – Portuguese white

14 Dec

11200loioswLoios White, Alentrjo
12.5% ABV
$9.00 (LCBO)

I wasn’t expecting much from this wine.
The concept of an inexpensive white Portuguese wine somehow does not inspire much oenological confidence.
Yet this wine is fine. It has that distinct Portuguese earthy flavour that I find many wines for Portugal have. It hits you on the initial swig of the wine – and actually sticks in there till the bottle is finished – but you do get used to it because it really does not interfere with the flavour.
Once beyond the earth you realise that are lots of pears here. Many times, wines with a predominantly pearish taste have a mushy and uncomfortable flavour as a whole. Like eating an over-ripe pear. This wine ain’t that – this is a crisp pear, and a rather nice crisp wine.
Granted – this wine will not win too many, if any awards. But well chilled – it is fine for a casual evening with or without food.