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.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Blanket Songs

With the onset of another deep freeze here in Kingston, just days after we were already hit with -38 degree Celsius temperatures,  my housemates and I find ourselves scrambling to adorn ourselves with any shred of fabric at hand.  We move around the house like a small herd of babushkas.  To help with the situation I've tried my best to keep the airwaves warm as well.  In that regard, I've been compiling songs that I like to refer to as 'blanket songs'.  Let me share some with you and you'll see what I mean.

The first is a song by James Blake, the UK songwriter and winner of Mercury Prize 2012 for best album.  Blake's music immediately fills the room.  Layers upon layers of vocal effects topped with heavy synth use create an underwater vibe.  Nothing is better than putting on headphones, turning off the lights and laying in bed to this fine tunage.

The second song is an old favourite of mine.  A classic off a classic album, Everything In Its Right Place by Radiohead is best listened to on the finest speakers you can find in your house, in the smallest room you can find.  Much like warm blankets of sound pouring from my speakers.  You can't not listen to it and feel cozy.

The third is a departure from the other two.  Fotheringay by Fairport Convention has a wonderful warmth generated by some great backing vocals to Sandy Denny's already soft folky voice.  The 1969 recording also adds a hazy and comfy feel.

Anywho, I hope you enjoy these as I have.  Have a great day and stay warm!

Sunday, January 5, 2014


Good morning friends.  

First off, I would like you to listen to some epic flow that I came across last night.  Here is a link to the song Zen Approach by Japanese producer Hideaki Ishi, better known as DJ Krush.  I highly recommend checking out the whole album, it’s really really good.  

Also, I just want to add that I'm drinking coffee mixed with eggnogg and it is the BEST.

Two weeks ago Kingston had a massive fire that destroyed a student living complex that was under construction.  Living a block and a half east of the site, my house was close enough to be included in the evacuation zone.  I was at work down the same street, and could see the flames raging away half a kilometer up.  It was a very surreal moment when my girlfriend showed up at work with a bag of my belongings, things she had deemed important to me.  

It had been burning since 2:00pm that day, and wasn't brought under control until at least 8:00pm.  Power had been restored to our neighbourhood fairly quickly, and we were able to return by around 9:00pm.  The next morning, after a very difficult sleep, there was still smoke billowing from the crater that had recently been the construction site.  

This event made an impact on me in three ways:

1) When the lady walked into work with my ‘things’ I later realized this was a profound moment.  Here was someone’s interpretation of me.  It is one thing to ask what you would grab from a burning building, but quite another when it is someone other than yourself.  It really shows how well you know that person.  I later joked with her that I had staged the whole thing just to get an idea of how well she knew me.  If I had, she would have passed.

2) I have always held Kingston on a golden tower so to speak.  It was where I completed my undergrad, where I've been living the two subsequent years, and where my house was always been a safe place, my place.   When a large piece of it went up in flames just two weeks ago, all of the sudden I could not think of Kingston in the same way.  It wasn't that I didn't feel safe, just no longer invincible.  Upon reflection, it seemed to me that this was the last severing of the cords of youth invincibility, like finally pulling out a tooth that had been hanging by a blood vessel. I believe that this is a natural thing.  I was never reckless, but come to think about it, I feel more self aware of the risks around me.

3) The fire challenged my interpretation of permanence.  When you are faced with a situation where you could potentially lose everything you own, it begs the question, “how would you feel if it had?”  To be honest, I was pleasantly surprised by my indifference towards losing all my belongings.  It wouldn't be a ‘nice’ experience to be sure, but I wouldn't be completely devastated by it.  Finding out how much I invest emotionally in objects was an exercise that I hadn't participated in before. I learned that I place very little emotional investment within objects, but a great deal of investment in that which is housing the objects. Now, in my mind,  the house no longer represented my stuff, but more importantly, the place where I could put my stuff.  This ties right back with my second point.  I was much more bewildered at the thought of not having a place rather than losing my stuff.  
Still, buying new work shirts would certainly be a total nuisance...

I leave you with these thoughts.  Were any of you affected by a catastrophe or something similar?  Please share your story in the comment section below.  Thank you for joining this morning and have a wonderful day.

Saturday, January 4, 2014


For some time now I have entertained the idea of opening my own coffee-shop/vinyl library. A set of lounge-y furniture would take up residence in the center of the room, while highchairs would accommodate the bums of those who enjoy people watching along the window-front  high-tops. The counter would have a small coffee service station equipped with espresso machine as well as a cash machine.  Large chalkboards along the walls would advertise specials and coffee products.  Along an entire wall would sit my record collection  (which would take an entire wall by the time I have the money to fund such a project as this) complete with turntable and some awesome speakers. Finally, in the corner would be a small riser and microphone for live musicians and speakers.

People could come in and simply enjoy a hot coffee and some good tunes.  They could make requests and even rent records for a small fee.  Every week there would be a speaker series where people with ideas worth talking about could come in and address the shop.  It would be a place where people can voice their opinions without fear of being judged.  There would be good conversation and even better coffee.  

This is obviously not something, as a young man possibly about to enter grad school, would ever have the time or money to pull off.  However, the idea of hosting my coffee shop as a virtual coffee shop on a blog became an interesting (and do-able) alternative.  

 What you are reading is the first post towards making this concept a reality.  Here I would like to open dialogues about things that I personally find interesting, and things that hopefully you do too.  We are going to talk about music, art, news, politics, culture, you name it!  Everything and anything that you would talk about in a coffee shop. With this in mind, please comment with honest and intelligent thoughts.  

 Remember, just like an actual shop, I am the owner of this page, so please do not leave litter lying around and remember to toss it in the trash.

And don't forget to sit down and read with a large mug of coffee.  This is the most important part.  

I leave you with some tunes.  Burial's 2007 release, Untrue.  Dark, moody, good.