Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Nimble Fingers vs Coldhands

Angel Olsen - White Fire

This morning I woke up with nimble fingers. Every so often this happens, my fingers seem to have a mind of their own and tap all over everything, It can sometimes last as much as all day, but more realistically they remain active for a couple of hours.
However, I think this is going to be an all day affair.
While each finger is an independent, they communicate between each other with tremendous clarity, making finger movements rapid and coordinated. Snapping is snappier, typing is fast and accurate, and if there is a knot that needs undoing, stand the fuck back. It can be a marvelous state of being, but is it not without consequences: my hands become irrecoverably cold. Cold hands are usually fumbling and clumsy. Not my Coldhands, and much like the character in G.R.R. Martin's splendid world, they execute with grim efficiency.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Not Dead Yet...

No no, I haven’t given up on blogging.  It’s just that I had recently discovered True Detective…  
Not an excuse, I know.  Needless to say, I’m about ready for spring.  This has been the longest coldest and harshest winter to my 24 year memory and I’m about ready to put it to myth.  It will forever be known as The Winter.  You know the winter they always talking about in Westeros?  Yup, that one.

First order of business is music however.  Real Estate released their new album, Atlas, last Tuesday.  You may hear it HERE.  It has been my go to for making dinner, getting home from work, and getting ready in the morning; basically all the time.  It is absolutely fabulous.  The sun seems to shine a little brighter and you may or may not be able to smell sunscreen while it plays.  It does something a little more though, it captures the underlying feelings of melancholy that summer tends to carefully hide.   Feelings that summer is not all year long, and will inevitably lead back to winter.  For me at least, summer has an urgency about it.  There is a constant reminder in the back of my mind to enjoy summer, because it is always much shorter than I think.  However, if I decide to listen to that thought, and actively try to “enjoy” summer, I’m not truly enjoying it, not allowing myself to relax completely and go with the flow.  To me, true “enjoyment” is only retrospective, and I cannot know at the moment whether I am truly enjoying it.  It is not unlike observer effect in quantum theory.  This complex feeling, clearly difficult for me to describe, is captured beautifully by this album. Somehow.

Lyrically, this album is spot on for someone coming out of their schooling and struggling to choose the right path.  THE BEND really exemplifies this theme and is my favourite on this album.  The rest of the songs deal with the confusion of making the right decision, about relationships, lifestyle, and so on.  The generality and simplicity of the lyrics add a lightness that is reciprocated by the instrumentals.  All in all, this album is a pure surf-pop delight that can reach as deeply as you let it.  It will definitely be playing a lot more at my house.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Snow, snow, snow

We are slowly being buried under blankets of snow here in Kingston.  I feel like the weather is trying to smother us, maybe hoping we will go away.  This winter in particular. And yet every spring, we re-emerge from the snowdrifts, shake off our jackets, and greet the sun with a relieved smile.

As a fan of metal music, something that I always try to do is understand the settings in which the music has been written. For example, when travelling through the oppressive heat of Florida in August, I could understand the maddening conditions that gave birth to the early death metal scene in the late 80's. Like paintings, and all other art for that matter, music is a social fossil, reflecting the sociopolitical climate of that time. Recently, I've been listening to a great deal of black metal recently.  Original stuff from the early 90’s.  After struggling with it for 10 years, I think I finally can appreciate it. It must be perceived as one perceives modern art.  It is isolation manifest.  It is also a paradox.  The themes of sadness and seclusion are made into a celebration, where screams of help are made to no-one in particular.  It is not something to be shared.  It is personal and introspective art, made as inaccessible as possible.  And yet these feelings are put into musical form and made available to the public, contrary to the messages it contained. I find this highly ironic.

I've always appreciated the musicianship on albums such as In the Nightside Eclipse and Sons of Northern Darkness, staples of my high school and university musical repertoire.  Now, there is something about A Blaze in the Northern Sky that totally captivates my feelings.  I can finally get past the firewall that was the low production quality and appreciate the thought that went into this album as a piece of emotional art, not as a technical one.  Not to say that Emperor or Immortal didn't produce any ‘emotional’ masterpieces, just none as raw as Blaze. The cathartic power of this music is absolutely invigorating. Despite believing so, I will never fully understand it. This is because I am not a Norwegian native in my late teens in the 90's. The feelings harbored that led to this music are not my feelings, at least not exactly. I can, however, appreciate them and what they have created.

Now, these are just my opinions, and to those who don’t listen to black metal, let alone metal at all, this music most likely all sounds the same.  Like you put a cheap cassette recorder through a drying machine filled with golf balls. However, I'm not going to tell you to give it a chance.  Remember, there is a reason you may not like it, just as there is a reason others do.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The late Townes Van Zandt

Good morning friends, I hope you are all cozy.  
I would like to introduce anyone who hasn’t already of heard of him, to country blues man Townes Van Zandt.  This cat was the humble engine driver to the train that was Nashville music in the 70’s.  He was the head of a singer-songwriter circle that included heavy-weights such as David Allen Coe and Steve Earle.  Despite the success that his contemporaries achieved, he never shared in the spotlight, preferring a behind the scenes role.  
This guy is an incredibly talented song writer.  He’s been compared to the exalted Bob Dylan, and  covered by the likes of Willie Nelson, The Avett Brothers, Andrew Bird, and Bob himself, among numerous more.  
I just picked up his 1979 album, Flyin’ Shoes and have been thoroughly enjoying it.  I’d like to share it with you this morning.

Here is the first track, Loretta, off this great album.  Mellow out.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Egg Pt.2

A throbbing pain was developing in the back of Edwin’s head.  The lamp.  Jane was distraught to find that when the old lamp had burnt out, instead of changing the bulb, Edwin had simply purchased a new lamp.  Also, the lamp that Edwin purchased was entirely unlike the prior.  It was a swinging arm lamp, meant for desktops, whereas the old lamp was a simple standing lamp that Jane had inherited from her deceased grandmother, a hideous clanky brass abomination with a pink felt shade.  Jane always suspected that Edwin disliked the lamp, but this, this was unacceptable.  

In truth, Edwin neither liked nor disliked the lamp.  When it came to getting a new bulb, he simply couldn’t remember which kind it took.  Instead of buying several kinds of bulbs and taking them all home to try (he detested clutter), he figured it would be much simpler and time saving to purchase a new lamp entirely.  It was then that he found the sale at the hardware store.  The prospect of getting this new lamp for the same price of two packs of bulbs was too good to pass up.  As if that wasn’t enough, the new lamp already included a bulb.  His purchase firmly clutched under his arm, Edwin felt giddy as he made his way to the checkout counter.  Completely forgetting to get the remaining items on his shopping list, he made his way home and set up the new lamp in place of the old.  Jane would be home in three hours.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Egg Pt.1

play music (in different tab)

Edwin Goodfellow stood up quickly from the dresser and smacked his head off the Bloody Lamp.  He rushed over to the pile of dirty laundry on the floor beside his bed, where within,  his phone alarm had started obnoxiously bleating its 8-bit rendition of The Final Countdown.  Desperately scrambling to find it and shut it off before it woke up Jane, who lay snoozing in the bed still, he systematically checked every pocket of every article. Third pair of pants, left back pocket. Strange, he thought, I don’t believe I've ever used a left back pocket for anything but lint.  It was a quandary.  The more he thought about it, the more it upset him.  Perhaps he was wearing his pants backwards that day and had thought he was putting his phone in his right front pocket.  No, that wasn't likely.  Then what could it have been? A muddled snore from Jane snapped him out of the trance.

Friday, January 10, 2014

S'Miles and S'Mushrooms

Good day fellow human beings.

First off, Miles.  Now with the appropriate sonic environment, we can cook.

I just created a recipe that I would like to share with you all.  It is for a creamy wild mushroom sauce (vegetarian).  It was pretty good, striking a good balance between sweet and earthy, but in the future I would go easier on the walnuts, if not leave them out entirely.  This is what I did:

- 1 can Campbell’s Cream of Wild Mushroom soup
- ½ to ¼ can of milk, depending on how you like the consistency of your sauce
- Half a white onion, slivered
- pinch of nutmeg
- pepper to taste
- ½ tablespoon of honey
- tablespoon of walnut oil
- crushed walnuts (just under a palm-full)

Add half of the walnut oil to a cooking pan and turn to medium-high heat. Saute slivered onions until brown at edges.  Reduce heat and add can of soup concentrate.  While stirring, slowly add the milk to the consistency required.  Once evenly mixed, add the honey, nutmeg, walnuts and rest of the walnut oil.  Taste test at this point, and start adding black pepper to taste.  The black pepper will subdue the sweetness of the honey and tie in the nutmeg to the overall flavour.  Adding lots of pepper will not get in the way of the overall flavor, but continue to add heat to the sauce.  If you want to reduce the sauce to thicken, keep in mind that spices will be amplified, in particular the pepper.  Enjoy over your favourite pasta noodles.