Sunday, 1 March 2015

Bibliophilia: Richard Stark’s Parker, Vol. 4: Slayground – Darwyn Cooke

Richard Stark’s Parker, Vol. 4: Slayground – Darwyn Cooke

I really hated the character in the first two books, warmed up to him in the third adaptation, and didn’t mind him at all in this fourth one.

Set in late 60’s wintry Buffalo, N.Y., Parker and his crew crash their getaway car as they make their escape after a heist. He’s the only survivor and thinking to lie low, he makes his way into a closed for the season theme park. Two crooked cops observe all this and inform a local mob boss who thinks he has found an easy score. But Parker is no fool and engages in a deadly game of cat and mouse. 

I enjoyed this story, and as always, Darwyn Cooke’s two tone artwork suits the era and material nicely.

S.o.t.D. - Faint – Northern Zone

Faint – Northern Zone

Perfect way to start the month of March. Bodacious bassline.

Gigapixels of Andromeda

You’ll want to watch this in full screen mode.

NASA and ESA have released a new image of the Andromeda galaxy. The total image has about 1.5 billion pixels, and shows over 100 million stars across 40,000 light years. Zooming in, the dusty swirls resolve into a vast sea of individual stars. And you’re still only seeing a fraction of the trillion stars it contains. And it’s estimated that there are 100 billion galaxies in the visible universe.

And it features Koda’s “The Last Stand”. Greatness piled atop sheer mind imploding awe-inspiringness.

Shackleton: Antarctic Odyssey – Nick Bertozzi

Shackleton: Antarctic Odyssey – Nick Bertozzi

I posted a scant review of another book Bertozzi did, one on the story of Lewis and Clark.

I gather he is doing a series on explorers, and this time he tackled the story of arguably one of the greatest of them all, and certainly one of the most incredible stories of survival against unfathomable odds. While I was fairly familiar with the story, I think this was a great telling of it, and worth it whether you do or don’t know the story. It’s a tale that has been told in numerous books, and this is a worthy addition to that canon.

If he does other books on that theme, I will definitely check them out.

Rig’mups Redux

First, a few pictures of the item this pouch is intended for, what I’ve always known as a rigger’s key.
In the hand, giving a sense of the size.

Several years ago I posted something about this pouch I had made several years before that.

The closure for it broke, namely the button.

Came up with a different approach. The button obviously proved the weak point, but getting the elastic through the slot in the skein proved to be a bit fiddly. Besides that, this approach meant that it could really only be mounted on the front of something to be able to open and close it. If I carry this, (and it is admittedly a tool that I haven’t so much use for), it will likely sit behind another pouch. I wanted something that would allow me to open and close it from the top, not the front.

Opted to sew two lengths of Mil-Spec elastic cord to it with a pull tab on each one. The cord is only under tension when it’s pulled up to release it. 
Front. Cords in place. The key is held in place very securely. 
 Front. Cords released. 
Back. Cords released.
Close up on the tabs. I only have to release one for me to be able to extract the key, but both open is a little easier.
Hanging upside down, no amount of shaking to and fro, no matter how forcefully, will release it.

Part of me thinks I should have sewn tabs to the pouch and then secured the bungee cord to those tabs rather than to the pouch itself. If I have to replace it, that would make it easier. But the elastic is very good quality, they aren’t going to be yanked on dozens times a day, and really, if I have to replace the cord, I may just take a different approach and make a whole new pouch. But for the foreseeable future, this will work just fine.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Bibliophilia: Rocket Robinson and the Pharaoh’s Fortune – Sean O’Neill

Rocket Robinson and the Pharaoh’s Fortune – Sean O’Neill

I grabbed this to check out as something to possibly recommend for my biblio-adiaphoros nephew.

And while I would indeed recommend it to pre-teen readers (male or female), it was good fun for this middle aged reader as well. It put me in the mind of TinTin and the comparison to Indiana Jones seems almost inevitable given the hold the character has in popular culture.

Rocket is a boy whose father is with the State Dept. who gets posted to Cairo in the 1930’s. While exploring the city with his pet monkey Screech, he meets Nuri, a street urchin and together they get drawn into a mystery. Otto von Stürm is a German criminal on the hunt for a pharaoh’s tomb with the aid of his henchmen. Adventure ensues.

S.o.t.D. - We Are I.E. – Lenny Dee Ice

We Are I.E. – Lenny Dee Ice

This is cited by some as the first “jungle” track. Although properly released in 1991, it was floating around for a while before that.

S.ot.D. - Tales of An Imperfect Future – Alfonso Font

Tales of An Imperfect Future – Alfonso Font

The gritty pen and ink drawings of Spanish artist Alfonso Font are quintessentially late 1970’s comic art. Think Metal Hurlant or 2000AD. Milo Manara comes to mind.

While stylistically it seems a little bit dated now, the stories are really quite clever. It’s a collection of short stories of biting satire. The bridge that connects them all is the device of a hideous alien who comments on the folly of humanity and their self destructive capacity.

A messenger runs in to announce to a group of military, political and religious leaders congratulating one another on the success of their implacable killing machine that has destroyed their foes, that the ship has been spotted returning to Earth. Two stiffs sent to a planet to observe the suitability of human life on it, are being driven around the bend by the non stop rain, and possibly being driven to their death by their only companion, a talking computer. A brave warrior battling and defeating monsters to save his people and his beloved princess, has the virtual reality helmet removed and we find this diversion was his reward from his employer for a few decades of loyal service. A captain of military industry convinces the political rulers of his calculus that a war must continue forever for the good of the economy, as injured soldiers pine for an end while lying in the mud. A family living in a dystopian wasteland are unaware they are about to become the prey of televised reality show hunters who are out for ratings and organs to harvest for the ultra-wealthy.

This and several other stories offer up some ominous satire to ponder. The art, while certainly of an era, is obviously the work of a talented illustrator.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

S.o.t.D. - The Second Room (A-Trip) – X-Dream

The Second Room (A-Trip) – X-Dream

When it was a relatively newish phenomenon, I liked quite a bit of Goa, or psychedelic trance. After a while a lot of it started to seem like utterly derivative cheese though. And I have a list of stuff that I liked back in the day and a lot of that doesn’t even appeal to me any more. Maybe I’m just not in the right head space any more. 

One act comes to mind though from that era that I can and do still listen to quite happily: X-Dream. Great workout, running, biking music. 

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

S.o.t.D. - Don’t Go (Dusky Remix) – Justin Martin

Don’t Go (Dusky Remix) – Justin Martin

Fun party starter.

Bibliophilia: Hitchens vs. Blair: Be It Resolved Religion Is A Force For Good In The World

Hitchens vs. Blair: Be It Resolved Religion Is A Force For Good In The World

This was a debate that took place on November 26th, 2010 at Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto.

They’re both intelligent men, and capable public speakers. But Hitchens used his rapier like wit and sharp verbal barbs to keep Blair on his hind feet.

“I never like to miss out a chance to congratulate someone on being humorous, if only unintentionally. It’s very touching for Tony to say that he recently went to a meeting that bridged a religious divide in Northern Ireland. Well, where does the religious divide come from?”

While the debate is well worth watching, this 70 page transcript (with an interview at the end with each participant) is a very nice accompaniment.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Saturday, 21 February 2015

S.o.t.D. - I Remember – Deadmau5 & Kaskade (feat. Haley Gibby)

I Remember – Deadmau5 & Kaskade (feat. Haley Gibby)

I had never heard much by Deadmau5 that I liked. It just seemed like the end of the electronic music spectrum that did nothing for me. Superstar DJs, and that whole over the top mega club / corporate “rave” scene aren’t really my cup of tea. And he seemed like a bit of an attention whore. 

Clicked on this. Might not have if it hadn’t been for the Kaskade name. Boy, am I glad I did. Really euphoric music.

Friday, 20 February 2015

S.o.t.D. - Something In The Air [Bonobo Remix] – Maya Jane Coles

Something In The Air (Bonobo Remix) – Maya Jane Coles

If I didn’t know who this was I might think Burial and Herbert collaborated on a track. But no! It’s Bonobo adding his touch to what was already a total groover.

I’ve had the original of this up before.

To me this is an almost perfectly structured piece of music. The tempo, the vocal samples, the sounds used – just exquisite.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

S.o.t.D. - Cross Hands (Hidden Orchestra Remix) – Piano Interrupted

Cross Hands (Hidden Orchestra Remix) – Piano Interrupted

Yummers! If you dig Bonobo (and what sane person wouldn’t?), you’ll like this. It’s that stand up bass that really adds something great to a track, and this is a perfect example.

Monday, 16 February 2015

S.o.t.D. - The Way – Grifta

The Way – Grifta

Languid hip hop with a drum and bass vibe. Or is that chilled out drum and bass with a bit of a hip hop vibe to it. Whatever the definition is, it’s another corker from Mr. Grifta.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

S.o.t.D. - o-ton-left – Swimmingpool

o-ton-left – Swimmingpool

So obscure that a search never turned it up – for years – but at last, it has shown up.

Klever Kutter Karrier 2

I had one of the earlier models of this, and got a new model recently. Same basic idea, but it’s a bit bigger, so didn’t fit in the pouch I had made for the previous model.
Like the first one, I added a fob to help pull it out of the pouch / serve as a finger loop / identify it as mine.
Close up of the lanyard knot.
A co-worker liked what I had done and asked if I could put a neon green fob on. I only had about a foot of neon green paracord, that had already had the core taken out, which doesn’t really lend itself to doing the lanyard knot. So I put a spiral sinnet on instead.
The only webbing I had laying around that would fit was some 2.75" webbing. A bit wider than I wanted, but it was the quickest route to take. Not pretty, but it does the trick. (The previous version on the right.)
Being a bit wider, means I can also stick a pen in there.

Bibliophilia: Exit Plan – Larry Bond

Exit Plan – Larry Bond

I have in past admitted to this genre being a fun indulgence. But lately some of the stalwarts of the genre have started to seem a bit long in the tooth. 

I have seen some other books by this author, but other than that, I was unfamiliar with him. I was given a bunch of books recently, including this.

What I liked about it was that it seemed somewhat plausible. Instead of the lone protagonist defeating overwhelming numbers of crazed religious goons, this book deals with a team and the odd guys out, (the subs executive officer who in a pinch had to pilot the mini sub that had an onboard fire, stranding him and the others), that has to pull together to help get 2 Iranian defectors back to the submarine they are cut off from. The “bad guys’ weren’t too cartoony evil, the “good guys” were human and fallible, and it included some submarine warfare in addition to the small team tactics.

I enjoyed it and will be checking out some of his other work.

Aaron Gough Custom Knives

If you have an interest in knives and knife making, this maker, Aaron Gough, has some very informative videos. 11 hours of footage was shot during the creation of this knife, which itself took 14 hours to make, and was edited down over 4 days into a 12 minute video.

The set up he uses is really slick. (Despite an Australian accent, I noticed a Loblaws No Name Extra Virgin Olive Oil can being used to quench steel and a Shoppers Drug Mart Life brand bottle of rubbing alcohol. Hhmmmhhh... I wonder if he’s in Canada. And indeed, he is in Toronto.) 

His other videos are really good too. The knife testing one in particular.

Friday, 13 February 2015

S.o.t.D. - Motivation – Visage

Motivation – Visage

Another one in honour of Steve Strange’s death. And another one that had a big impact on the budding music geek in me when I first heard this.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

S.o.t.D. - I’m Still Searching – Visage

I’m Still Searching – Visage

Just heard Steve Strange died today. This was the B-side on a 7" picture disc that my synth obsessed younger self really dug. More than 30 years later it still sounds good.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

S.o.t.D. - Caravane (Lezzi Baba Remix) – El Kado

Caravane (Lezzi Baba Remix) – El Kado

A track I heard on internet radio years ago and a periodic search on YT never turned it up – until now. Chilled lounge with flamenco guitar.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

S.o.t.D. - Different Grooves – Source Direct

Different Grooves – Source Direct

Another totally infectious groover from misters Aslett and Baker.

Modular Gear For The Rest Of Us: Mission Workshop

Continuing my series chronicling examples of modular carry equipment geared to non-military endeavours.

Mission Workshop is a California bag and clothing maker. Catering to a hip, urban clientelle, they have their own take on a modular system, called the Arkiv System. It’s a proprietary system, based on vertical rails. The base is a roll top pack, with three options available – the R2, the R6 and the R8, the numbers corresponding to the number of rails. On to these can be added a variety of pouches.
It’s an interesting take on the idea, but if there is a drawback it’s that Mission seems to be the only manufacturer to offer any pouches compatible with the system. With PALS/MOLLE there are easily a hundred manufacturers offering pouches that will mount to it.

Bibliophilia: Multiple Warheads (Book One, Alphabet to Infinity) – Brandon Graham

Multiple Warheads (Book One, Alphabet to Infinity) – Brandon Graham

If Moebius was feeling particularly punny, took 500 micrograms of LSD, and drew manga with some porny elements set in an alternate universe Soviet Union hinterland. Not sure how else to describe it. Each page has lots of elements to look at, and they’re lots of fun to look at. But the story was so convoluted and lacking cohesion that I stopped reading after about 50 pages and just flipped through the rest, enjoying the imaginative world building and densely packed visual elements. Maybe not fair of me to judge it solely on appearance, but the story just went nowhere.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

S.o.t.D. - Ascend A Fall – Zoviet France

Ascend A Fall – Zoviet France

Interesting outfit out of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Hard to pin down – dissonant, ambient, experimental, industrial, given to ethnomusicological exploration. 

I had the chance to see them live twice in Toronto in 1990 – once at the Horseshoe Tavern (not an optimal venue to experience them in), and then a few months later at the Euclid Theatre (great venue to experience them in). First show was in a bar with disinterested people drinking and talking, the second in an old theatre with great acoustics and a respectful and appreciative audience.

Their records were often noteworthy because of the unusual packaging – one was sandwiched between tar paper, another in a burlap sack, another in tinfoil. The CD this track was taken from, Just An Illusion, came in a quasi-wooden cigar box. 

I only ever managed to get a handful of recordings from them, but this track was my favourite from the ones I did get.

Friday, 6 February 2015

S.o.t.D. - Risico – Grifta

Risico – Grifta

Another stellar track from Grifta, who it appears is capable of tackling a number of genres with aplomb.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

S.o.t.D. - Hesperus – Hooch

Hesperus – Hooch

Love that tension – the beautiful, calm, more melodic, orchestral elements, juxtaposed with those crisp, rolling drums.

Modular Gear For The Rest Of Us: Switlik X-Back Air Crew Vest

Continuing my series chronicling examples of modular carry equipment geared to non-military endeavours.

In existence since 1920, Switlik Parachute Co. (although I don’t think they actually make parachutes any more), manufacture anti-g and anti-exposure suits, PFDs, inflatable rafts for military, law enforcement and the aviation industry in an 85,000 sq. ft facility in Trenton, New Jersey.

The material is a Nomex/Kevlar blend and is available in Cobalt Blue and Burnt Orange.
Also available are various pouches, including one for a HEED bottle.
Shown with various pouches attached.

It comes in at a weight of 1.08 kg (2 lbs 6 oz). Two 18g CO2 cylinders give it a buoyancy of over 35 lbs. It also has a built in locator light. Cost is $379.00.

I have a Mustang Survival manually inflatable PFD, (not certain of the exact model), that is superficially similar to this, and I’ve been very happy with it. Light and unobtrusive, yet one tug on the handle and I instantaneously have a horseshoe yoke keeping me afloat and my head up and out of the water.

But if I’m in a boat of some kind, I also want to have some other life saving gear on me, should I somehow become separated from the boat. Comms, and some other means of signalling, a way to start a fire and some other basic survival gear, some food maybe, a multi-tool, compass, etc. This thoughtful incorporation of PALS webbing allows for that very need.

If I was in the market for another PFD, even though this is geared towards air-crew, I could see it being applicable to watersports as well. The fact that it comes in orange is also appealing.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Bibliophilia: Bad Houses – Sara Ryan & Carla Speed McNeil

Bad Houses – Sara Ryan & Carla Speed McNeil
Another example of a graphic novel that tells a seemingly simple, every day story. No one does anything out of the ordinary, has special powers, wears outlandish costumes, etc. And yet it is a really enjoyable read.

Lewis works with his mother curating estate sales.

Anne lives with her mother, a nurse, who we learn is a hoarder.

They live in a logging town in Oregon, one whose glory days, if ever there were any, are fading into memory.

The two meet and a relationship develops.

Several subplots are woven into the main story and at various points you go back to see where elements of the story were subtly introduced. I loved Carla Speed McNeil’s bold but very expressive art. It reminded me a little of Glenn Grant’s work on Mind Theatre.

What seems somewhat prosaic at first, ends up being quite a charming story, about growing up and moving on.

Modular Gear For The Rest Of Us: Atlas 46

While the military may well have led the pack when it comes to modular gear, it delights me to no end when I see some of those concepts applied to other endeavours.

John Carver was the man behind Eagle Industries, who it might be said pioneered the tactical sewn goods industry. He has started another venture, Atlas 46, aimed at the construction trade. During my stint framing houses, I found what I was using underwhelming and had some ideas for making my own, incorporating some of the ideas I was seeing in military gear. I switched to other employment and the ideas never saw the light of day. Mr. Carver has taken what he learned making gold standard tactical gear and applied it to the job site. Lots of nicely thought out features. Reasonable prices too.

A selection:
AIMS Main Tool Attachment Pouch
AIMS Screw and Nail Attachment Pouch

A feature I thought was intriguing was this ability to close up or subdivide this pouch.
AIMS Drill Holster
Journeyman Apron XL
Ladder Pad

S.o.t.D. - Adrift – Grifta

Adrift – Grifta

So, so, so good! That deep vibe, that funky bassline, the sax licks, the precise drums, that melodic flute line that animates it all. Awesome. Shame it’s only 3 minutes long.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

S.o.t.D. - Dive Into You (Tom Middleton Instrumental Mix) – Hefner Cosmos

Dive Into You (Tom Middleton Instrumental Mix) – Hefner Cosmos

It doesn’t say in as many words, but I’m 99% certain Tom Middleton had a large hand in shaping this sound.

Leatherman Tread

I don’t too often gush about products being released, but this new design from Leatherman - who I’m generally a big fan of - delighted me.
25 tools made from 17-4 stainless steel, including a bottle opener, a cutting hook, hex drives, square drives, screwdrivers, box wrenches, and a carbide glass breaker – worn as a bracelet.
Later in 2015 a watch version will be released.

It might prove to be more of a clever idea than anything you’d bust out for anything other than the most dire emergency. It might even prove to be a bit uncomfortable to wear. But I think it’s so clever, it’s making me consider forking over $150 to $200 (suggested MSRP) and wearing a bracelet or watch again after 25 years of not. 

Leatherman’s announcement.