Saturday, 19 July 2014

S.o.t.D. - Rodent – Skinny Puppy

Rodent – Skinny Puppy

This album rocked my world like everything else they did. The production, the rich complexity of their sound, that chugging, never really kicking over drum beat, that little dat da da horn sound just before the vocals kick in at the 1:30 mark, the stream of consciousness lyrics, and then the fact that for being an abrasive band / sound, it was a really hooky song.

Cringe inducing videos of women shooting guns

I came across a YT video showing women shooting, and it was packaged as one of those schadenfreude-ish “fail” compilations.

They make me cringe not even so much for the awful handling (chickenwinging, teacupping, limpwristing, leaning back, feet not placed right, scopes right against the eye) – but mainly for the off screen males behind those videos. Why the hell are the lunkheads who’ve taken them shooting, not giving them proper coaching and giving them firearms they simply can’t handle? Giving some 100 lb. slip of a girl a 12 gauge shotgun or a .44 revolver is asking for an uncomfortable / painful / dangerous experience. She’ll hate it, be resentful of being made to look like a fool, the video the asshole shot of it and post on the web, will further humiliate the girl, and make responsible firearms owners look really bad.

I particularly despise these videos because I suspect the asswipes taking their girlfriends / sisters / wives, etc. to the range are sadistic jerks at best.

I’m all for responsible firearms ownership and use. But those videos demonstrate the opposite of that.
Firearms owners are their own worst enemies sometimes

Friday, 18 July 2014

S.o.t.D. - Show Me Your Spine – Programming The Psychodrill

Show Me Your Spine – Programming The Psychodrill

This was the music featured in the night club scene in Robocop, and was Al Jourgenson of Ministry and Nivek Ogre of Skinny Puppy on vocals. Don’t know that it was ever that great or that it has held up so well, but I was pretty stoked about it at the time because of who was involved.

Monday, 14 July 2014

S.o.t.D. - Drumz ’95 (Nasty Habits remix) – Doc Scott

Drumz ’95 (Nasty Habits remix) – Doc Scott

This track is insanely fun to dance to! Yet another example of some of the superb stuff that was being produced in the 90’s under the label “jungle” or “drum and bass”.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

S.o.t.D. - Warm Leatherette – The Normal

Warm Leatherette – The Normal

While I’m on a late 70’s synth pop that influenced 80’s techno kick, I can’t believe I haven’t posted this classic. Inspired by the great J. G. Ballard.

Friday, 11 July 2014

S.o.t.D. - Frequency 7 – Visage

Frequency 7 – Visage

I went to hear Kenny Larkin spin and had to laugh when I heard this ten year old Visage song tossed into the mix. And yet, it fit perfectly with the hard edged sounds the early techno guys in Detroit were coming up with.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

S.o.t.D. - The Sun and the Rainfall – Depeche Mode

The Sun and the Rainfall – Depeche Mode

A Broken Frame is still one of my favourite Depeche Mode albums. Surprisingly strong for an album with someone else stepping into the main songwriter role for the first time. 

Bibliophilia: Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story – Robyn Doolittle

Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story – Robyn Doolittle In case you haven’t heard, the mayor of Toronto has a substance abuse issue. Okay, many issues.

I’m an avid CBC radio listener and listened transfixed to all the revelations as they unfolded. But reading them all again in one place brought into stark relief what an abysmal mayor the Ford brothers are. 

The verbal gaffes, the inarticulate buffoonery, the frat boy antics, the uncultured stupidity, the cringe inducing oafishness - those were a mere pre-amble to the train wreck to come. 

I get that if a city is ¾ of a billion in the hole, and public service unions keep blithely demanding more in the midst of a recession, many taxpayers will be very resentful that they are regarded as a bottomless money pit. But weren’t there any better options for a fiscally conservative candidate? I was crestfallen that John Tory didn’t run. Not that I necessarily agree with his every stance, but he is at least an articulate statesman. He inspires some confidence. 

In all this, the largest source of contention for many was the block headed brother of the mayor. Speaking for him, showing up at functions in his place, and then enabling his actions.

“Robbie just likes to have a couple of pops in the basement.” Dougie. Robbie takes an Oxycontin, then proceeds to get completely blottoed drunk, snorts rails of coke, drives in that state, goes and hangs out at a place where gang members involved in public gun battles hang out, and then smokes crack with them. And/or goes out in public in that state. No, you entitled enabler, Robbie doesn’t have a “couple of ‘pops’.” Robbie is the mayor of the sixth largest government in the country, and acts in a way that would get you fired from every job if you behaved that way. He knew he was lying when he said that.

And to then malign the police and their chief, calling into question their integrity - when the chief revealed they had the video - just beggars belief.

They seem to be the perfect storm of hubris, arrogance and entitlement.

I think the Ford brothers already have, or are very near to that realm of the unforgiveable, on par with Lance Armstrong. People make mistakes. With contrition for an honest mistake, atonement is possible. The addiction could be forgiven. But to lie about it at length, endlessly deny, and then worst of all impugn the character of your critics and attack them legally - that enters into territory one shouldn’t come back from.

A good book about a bad mayor. I found it an engrossing read, despite knowing a lot of the details already. I got a lot out of the glimpse at modern newspaper publishing and the spirited defence the author gives of the profession and the efforts to tell this important story.

Monday, 7 July 2014

S.o.t.D. - Swimmer – Metamatics

Swimmer – Metamatics

Ambientish intro for the first 2½ minutes, and then segues into a D&B track that would fit nicely into a Bukem set.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Ride The Sky

To quote producer and director Lance Page’s blurb on Vimeo: 
I had the idea of a new astro time-lapse technique in which the camera is pointed right at the north star and mounted to a motorized pivot point directly lined up with the sensor so the camera is able to spin with the stars through the night. 

The result is truly magical.

S.o.t.D. - Woven Ancestry (Lusine Remix) – Max Cooper

Woven Ancestry (Lusine Remix) – Max Cooper

Max Cooper is good, and then you throw in a Lusine remix, and it’ll be even gooder.

Friday, 4 July 2014

S.o.t.D. - Blue Water – Metamatics

Blue Water – Metamatics

Discovered this, yet another totally fantastic track by Metamatics, on The Grandfather Paradox: “A Journey Through 50 years of Minimalistic Music”. This percolating number was the best thing on there.

Monday, 30 June 2014

A Canoe For The Making by Maryke Mcewen

I saw a show on TV about a dozen years ago, on APTN, and would LOVE to see it again.

A motorized canoe brings three (native) men to an island in the boreal forest. Two of them get out and start to unload supplies. The canoe takes off leaving the two men stranded. The younger of the two is freaking out, but the older man calmly announces that they’ll just build a canoe.

They build a birchbark canoe and while doing so the dynamic between the two men is explained. The older man is the younger man’s grandfather in law. The younger man is very much used to modern life, where as the older man is still into the old ways. It becomes clear that the younger man is also an alcoholic. The time they spend building the canoe allows him to dry out. There is a bottle of booze sticking out of the top of a stump out in the water. Initially he can’t wait to get out there and get at it, but when the boat is done, he has the chance to paddle out there and get it. But opts not to take it.

Deciding that they will head back in the morning, they fall asleep. He wakes to see the older man in a drunken rage, bottle in hand, kicking at the boat. He runs over asking him what he’s doing, that he’s destroying the boat. The old man it quickly becomes apparent is not drunk at all. He turns to him and says:
“I can fix this boat or make a new one. I can’t replace my granddaughter. If you ever hurt her again, I’ll kill you. I could easily have killed you, and buried you here, and people would believe me when I told them it was an accident. And then I would come back and build a boat over your corpse year after year.”

The half hour show was called A Canoe For The Making, and it was a 1995 CBC production by Maryke Mcewen, and directed by George Bloomfield. The grandfather was played by venerable Canadian actor Gordon Tootoosis, the younger man was played by Kennetch Charlette .

And wouldn’t you know it, it is impossible to find anywhere.

S.o.t.D. - Popular (Tom Middleton Cosmos Remix) – Saint Etienne

Popular (Tom Middleton Cosmos Remix) – Saint Etienne

Because one can never have too many Tom Middleton remixes.

Oh, come on.....

I appreciate entrepreneurialism. I admire anyone willing to come up with an interesting idea and bring it to market.

But I also see things sometimes that only leave me capable of saying “Oh, come on.....”

Case in point.

Bamin Bags

I’ll give them props for being made in the USA.

But besides the fact that zippers should not be load bearing, $235 for a rectangle of leather with a zipper sewn on is kooky.

$370 to $550 for a duffelbag with no interior organization strike me as really rich. You can get a whole lot of bag from a company like Kifaru or Mystery Ranch or Tom Bihn, or several other made in the USA bag makers, for that sort of money.

I’ll pass.

Fabric Testing

Fantastic post on Hill People Gear’s forum, testing a variety of “outdoor” fabrics. Not exhaustively comprehensive (the post author only had the chance to use the equipment sporadically, samples were limited, equipment couldn’t give measurements for some parameters) but still an enlightening article.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

S.o.t.D. - Searchers – Amon Tobin

Searchers – Amon Tobin

One of those over used words, but I think Amon’s music approaches genius level.

The Diary of a Tattooist

CBC documentary from 1964 called The Diary of a Tattooist, about Victoria, B.C.’s Doc Forbes. Truly like something from a time capsule. Interesting to see how the techniques and culture has changed.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

S.o.t.D. - Early Blow – Ratio

Early Blow – Ratio

The latter part isn’t as thrilling as the intro - it gets a bit repetitious - but mixed well with other tracks by a good DJ, this has potential.

Monday, 23 June 2014

S.o.t.D. - Swing Bop (Acid Pauli Remix) – Der Dritte Raum

Swing Bop (Acid Pauli Remix) – Der Dritte Raum

Slow, hypnotic, and yes, swing and bop are there, but with more of a beat. Those slow, fat sax tones, and then the oboe playing between those sounds over that soulful bass and shuffling beats. Good stuff.

Spider silk fabric

Read an interesting news release from Kraig Biocraft Laboratories that they have developed spider silk based fibers, called Monster Silk and Warwick Mills have developed an actual fabric from it.

So far it has been samples of a jersey knit, but other fabrics are planned. Being able to create the fiber is fascinating, but it means considerably more that they can actually be woven into a fabric using existing machinery.

More can be seen here.

Klever Kutter Karrier

A place I worked at for a while insisted people use these “Klever Kutters” to open boxes. I thought it was silly, but whatever. 
It works I guess, although I did see people get injured by them. They flail away at pallet wrap with it, hit the pallet, the tip breaks off, they don’t notice and when they reach into their pocket to grab it, they slice a finger open. I’m of the mind set that how you use a tool is more an indicator of whether you’ll get injured by it rather than thinking that a safety feature will protect without fail. I’d rather someone with a clue uses whatever cutting tool they can manage safely, than think an 18 year knucklehead won’t manage to foolishly misuse a “fool-proof” gimmick. 

It worked all right for the number of times I used it, but the Spyderco Tenacious I carry could have done the job just as well and just as safely - because I use it safely.

I decided to make a little sheath for it.
Just used some seat belt webbing I had laying around. Folded it in 3 - one part forms the belt loop, one part forms the holder.
I put some seam tape at the ends. Sewn by hand on breaks one day.
Realized a limitation the first time I used it - with a belt loop that goes all the way to the bottom, pulling on the tool, pulls the sheath all the way up, and made it tough to get the tool back in.
Nothing a couple of stitches didn’t remedy.
And of course, I also added a lanyard, with two lanyard knots. I can pull it out of the sheath easier, and the loop is big enough to put two fingers through, meaning I could hang on to it while I used my fingers for other tasks.
Simple carrier for a little tool that works, but that I would never have spent my own money on by choice.

Monday, 16 June 2014

S.o.t.D. - Make Believe – Elo Method & Subranger

Make Believe – Elo Method & Subranger
I like this track and all. But being inspired by Burial is one thing, but also using samples from Ray J’s One Wish - like he did in Archangel - seems a bit odd to me.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

The Loch Tay Logboat

The Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust built a recreation of the Carpow logboat, a 3000 year old, 9m long oak logboat found in 2006 in the Tay estuary near Perth, Scotland.

Using a 10 meter long Douglas fir log, and recreation bronze age tools, volunteers spent three weeks to build as faithful a reproduction as possible, the Loch Tay logboat.

S.o.t.D. - Make You Feel – Phaeleh

Make You Feel – Phaeleh

Not the best track Phaeleh has done, but since it’s Phaeleh, it’s still really damn good.

Knit in Public Day Posters

A few ideas I did up for Knit in Public Day posters. The format of the first is meant to work on lamp posts and the like.

Direct and to the point, even if it isn’t the most legible typeface I’ve ever done.

Make Do And Mend

An admirable sentiment I wish more people took to heart.

Genneo – Power Through Motion

Just learned about this, and I’m intrigued. There are a few means of generating some power while on the move and/or away from a power grid. Solar is one, and fire is another (Biolite is one means of doing this, FlameStower is another, and I’ve seen some DIY versions as well.) There are also hand crank generators like the K-Tor Pocket Socket.

Each has their good and bad points. When overcast, the effectiveness of the solar panels is diminished, but they can be used either on the move or in camp. The fire methods seem to require fairly long burn times to generate much power, and they can only be employed when in camp. A hand crank might get annoying/painful for some if cranking for a long time. Some might say that you could carry more than one method, but weight and bulk, and I suppose cost, make that impractical.

This method ( generates power through movement. Which if you’re walking or cycling anyway, is a nice bonus. Carried in a pocket, in the hand, even in a pack works. Shaking it in the hand for a while works. I’m curious whether the movement of a canoe/kayak or the rocking of a hammock would work.

Seems to weigh a bit, which some might consider a negative, but I guess it depends how important power is to you.

Chladni Plate

A friend recently showed me this, and to say that my mind was blown is putting it mildly. Some more info on this.

And a longer version. Although the hertz that produce the image aren’t indicated in this video. (And trust me, you want to turn the sound down in this one.)

Saturday, 14 June 2014

S.o.t.D. - Song For Dead Time (Jarboe version) – Swans

Song For Dead Time (Jarboe version) – Swans

I’ve posted the original version off of White Light from the Mouth of Infinity, but it’s such a great piece of music by such a great act, it was worth posting this slightly different version.

Bibliophilia: Blacksad & Blacksad: A Silent Hell – Juan Díaz Canales

Blacksad: A Silent Hell – Juan Díaz Canales

A really superb example of what graphic novels are capable of. Tight stories and gorgeous watercolour art (by Spanish illustrator Juanjo Guarnido) combined. It’s gritty, noir detective stories in a 1940’s, 1950’s setting, but with a
nthropomorphized animals.

Very recommended!

Bibliophilia: Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing – Hod Lipson & Melba Kurman

This feels a bit like a book that came out in the mid 80s to announce the coming wonders of personal computers and desktop publishing.

If you’re interested in learning more about the subject, this is an excellent introduction, explaining the advantages and disadvantages of various methods, software and the like. I learned a lot from this book.

Friday, 13 June 2014

S.o.t.D. - So In Love – Sublab

So In Love – Sublab

Holy moly is this ever good. Singer is Gabrielle Aplin, and it samples her track Power of Love. Slow, languid trip hop with a really great voice and a hooky vocal sample.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

S.o.t.D. - Scarlet Arch – And Also The Trees

Scarlet Arch – And Also The Trees

Another of those bands that I liked 30 years ago, and then......kind of faded from my attention. Liked this song a lot. I can kind of see this band now as a bit pre-shoegaze.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Monday, 9 June 2014

S.o.t.D. - Gulch – Tipper

Gulch – Tipper

Time for celebration! There’s a new Tipper album out! With cover art by Android Jones!

Due to the sheer mind blowing awesomeness of both these great artists, a bonus video is included in todays post, Tipper’s Life Raft For A Death Trip, showing a time lapse video of Jones’s process for creating the cover. I’m not sure which is more mind blowing – the process or the finished result.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

S.o.t.D. - Hold Your Breath (Spectrasoul Remix) – Etherwood

Hold Your Breath (Spectrasoul Remix) – Etherwood

Sophisticated pop music with a D&B feel.

Two Sides of the High Level Bridge

 Burlington Bay/Hamilton Harbour. Carroll’s Point in the centre. Hamilton off to the right.
Cootes Paradise. Dundas in the distance.

Both photos taken this spring.

Red Tailed Hawk on the Iroquois Bar pt. 3

The chicks are visible.
It’s been interesting watching them do battle with a pair of crows. Probably just hoping to drive the hawks away for fear they’ll come after their chicks. I don’t think trying to get chicks or eggs is their game. 

Photos taken by Andrew Little.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

S.o.t.D. - The Crane – Source Direct

The Crane – Source Direct

This will leave ear drums blistered.


A few photos I took recently of this cities wonderful waterfront.
 Taken from Bayfront Park
Taken at Desjardins Canal, with Carrolls Point in the center and the city off to the right.

Perfect summation of annoying tattoo customers.

Visible Human Project

Some will find this creepy, and some will find this fascinating.

In 1981, Joseph Jernigan was sentenced to death for murder. He agreed to donate his body to science and the judgment was carried out in 1993.

At University of Colorado’s Health Sciences Center, his frozen corpse was ground down from the top at 1-millimeter increments with photographs taken at each level. This yielded 1,871 cross-sections, which pieced together take us on this journey through the insides of a human being.

I wish there was a way to go through all 1,871 images in slow motion.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

S.o.t.D. - Into The Fire – Thirteen Senses

Into The Fire – Thirteen Senses

A Cornish band, with some really catchy, anthemic pop. All the imagery in this is taken from the French film Les Chevaliers du Ciel (released as Sky Fighters in English-speaking territories), which this song appears in. Good god damn are those Mirage fighters ever sexy.

Monday, 2 June 2014

S.o.t.D. - In Cythera – Killing Joke

In Cythera – Killing Joke

I’m chagrined to say that I completely missed their 2012 album, MMXII. Really like this song. Hard, yet catchy. They still have something. I hope this was a hit for them in markets where radio isn’t turgid.

Bibliophilia: The Fearless Defenders - Vol. 1, Doom Maidens – Bunn Cullen

The Fearless Defenders - Vol. 1, Doom Maidens – Bunn Cullen
I’d like to say I got this because of the great story line or character development, but really, I have to admit to being a boy and the hot babes being a draw.

I’m not much of a fan of the Marvel universe in general, and this didn’t do much to sway me. Fun enough read, nice to see an ensemble of female characters for a change, Mark Brooks’ collected covers of the individual issues are fantastic – but I couldn’t really embrace the story line. I admit I like Batman, but most 
super hero and heroine stories, don’t do too much for me. So many of the story lines just get more absurd and impossibly improbable, as they twist stories into ever wilder yarns. The story has run its course. Let the character go. Start up something new. But there is so much invested in the marketability of those characters, the inviolability of the canon, the publishers just keep reeling them further out. Just doesn’t wow me that much. I gather this was a popular title with young women, a market I clearly am not. And, if this demographic feels these characters don’t get enough exposure, they were likely disappointed by the cancellation of the title after just 12 episodes.

But that cream headache.

Scenic Deadfall

Some photos I took back in the fall of a tree that’s fallen over the weird little damn/wall/walkway by Scenic Falls. Went by there yesterday and the tree is still there.

 And the view from the other side.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

S.o.t.D. - Lost Memory – Volor Flex

Lost Memory – Volor Flex

Love this. Love that pulverizing bass line, with that shuffling, clicky beat over that, the odd segues, the off kilter calm bits, the crackly hissing.

Bibliophilia: The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason – Sam Harris

The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason – Sam Harris

A book that I wish everyone would read. I admit to being completely biased in favour of his position, but reading this sharp as a diamond critique of irrational belief systems, and defense of reason and logic, helped focus my own thoughts on it. 

What if all our knowledge about the world were suddenly to disappear? Imagine that six billion of us wake up tomorrow morning in a state of utter ignorance and confusion. Our books and computers are still here, but we can’t make heads or tails of their contents. We have even forgotten how to drive our cars and brush our teeth. What knowledge would we want to reclaim first? Well, there’s that business about growing food and building shelter that we would want to get reacquainted with. We would want to relearn how to use and repair many of our machines. Learning to understand spoken and written language would also be a top priority, given that these skills are necessary for acquiring most others. When in this process of reclaiming our humanity will it be important to know that Jesus was born of a virgin? Or that he was resurrected? And how would we relearn these truths, if they are indeed true? By reading the Bible? Our tour of the shelves will deliver similar pearls from antiquity like the “fact” that Isis, the goddess of fertility, sports an impressive pair of cow horns. Reading further, we will learn that Thor carries a hammer and that Marduk’s sacred animals are horses, dogs, and a dragon with a forked tongue. Whom shall we give top billing in our resurrected world? Yaweh or Shiva? And when will we want to relearn that premarital sex is a sin? Or that adulteresses should be stoned to death? Or that the soul enters the zygote at the moment of conception? And what will we think of those curious people who begin proclaiming that one of our books is distinct from all others in that it was actually written by the Creator of the universe?

I believe ladies and gentlemen, that is known as BAM!

How can any person presume to know that this is the way the universe works? Because it says so in our holy books. How do we know that our holy books are free from error? Because the books themselves say so. Epistemological black holes of this sort are fast draining the light from our world. There is, of course, much that is wise and consoling and beautiful in our religious books. But words of wisdom and consolation and beauty abound in the pages of Shakespeare, Virgil, and Homer as well, and no one ever murdered strangers by the thousands because of the inspiration he found there. The belief that certain books were written by God (who, for reasons difficult to fathom, made Shakespeare a far better writer than himself) leaves us powerless to address the most potent source of human conflict, past and present. How is it that the absurdity of this idea does not bring us, hourly, to our knees?  

I burst into laughter when I read the part in brackets.

Bibliophilia: Command Authority – Tom Clancy with Mark Greaney

Command Authority – Tom Clancy with Mark Greaney
Several of his last ones have been spotty, but this one is a bit of a return to form.

And amazingly topical, given developments in the Ukraine since his untimely death. Although the authors managed to defuse this whole situation very neatly. Fiction is always so much easier than non-fiction to end on a high note.

Saturday, 31 May 2014

S.o.t.D. - Let You – AppleBottom

Let You – AppleBottom

Two days later, and I have to post another one by AppleBottom. And another photo of a babe smoking. The sections leading up to 1:30 and then from 3:30 on - mmm, mmm good. Really digging that spacey production, that echoey vibe, vocals that sound a bit distant.

Bibliophilia: Forgotten Household Crafts – John Seymour

One of many books that John Seymoura fervent proponent of self-sufficiency, wrote. Very opinionated, and some might say his views are a bit backwards, but I think he’s on the right track. I’ve mentioned before that I tend to find the mundane day to day aspects of history, i.e. how regular people lived, a lot more absorbing than the broad sweeps of politics and warfare.

Filled with many line drawings, of things that would baffle most people if they came across one in an antique store. Sugar nippers, ale mullerfluting iron, curd agitatorwooden peg dollyhemming bird, wooden standing rushlight holder, and many other weird and wonderful things of domestic life of decades and centuries past.

The section on hearths and various stoves I personally found fascinating. The section on ice houses (and the Raplin ice maker), as well as ale houses and dairies were also really interesting. 

(And I was aware of this, but seeing as I have no connection in life with wooden barrels, I only dimly recalled it. A barrel is only correctly a barrel if it holds 36 gallons. A Pin holds 4.5 gallons, a Firkin 9 gallons, a Kilderkin 18 gallons, a Barrel 36 gallons, a Hogshead 54 gallons, a Puncheon 72 gallons, and a Butt 108 gallons.)

Most of the entries here are at best an introduction. If you want an in-depth look at anything, you’ll need to turn to another source. If there is a criticism of this book is that it deals more with tools than skills.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

S.o.t.D. - Big Lost – Diplo

Big Lost – Diplo

It was driving me crazy what the riff in this was from. Then it hit me: Another New Day by Jazzanova. Looked into it to see if I was right. Turns out that they sampled it from a 1968 track called Hunters of Heaven by Harumi.

Monday, 26 May 2014

S.o.t.D. - Enani – Bass’Flo & Ziyal

Enani – Bass’Flo & Ziyal

Sweet, liquid DnB.

Bibliophilia: The Mongoliad: Book One – Neal Stephenson & Friends

The Mongoliad: Book One – Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, Erik Bear, Joseph Brassey, E.D. deBirmingham, Cooper Moo and Mark Teppo
The only author out of this mob I knew was Stephenson, consistently one of my favourites. I don’t know the degree to which all the authors contributed, but it doesn’t feel like the work of 7 writers. Whether some were just there to add their knowledge of fighting techniques to make them sound plausible, whether they each inhabited one of the main characters, and one person did the plot outlining – I’m not sure. It seemed quite cohesive to me. 

Set in 1241, about a dozen western fighters, each drawn from a different fighting discipline, set out on a journey to assassinate Ögedei Khan, the son of the famous Genghis, in an effort to prevent the spread of the Mongol horde into Western Europe, and suffering the same ravages that befell Asia.

Running parallel to that is the story of 
Gansukh, a young Mongol warrior sent to Ögedei’s court by one of his brothers, in an effort to try to persuade him to stop drinking himself to death. Gansukh’s only real experience is riding horses on the steppes and slaughtering his opponents. He is inexperienced at navigating his way through the politics and treachery of the court, so he is assigned a tutor, Lian.

Gansukh’s fish out of water story is perhaps easier to relate to for the reader. The European champions, knights and warrior monks, maybe because of their numbers, aren’t quite as easy to 
distinguish or identify with. Their characters do flesh out a bit more as the story progresses, but it takes some time.

All in all I really enjoyed it. It’s fiction set against a historical backdrop, an epic quest with medieval fight scenes that are very well described and moves along at a good clip. 

Saturday, 24 May 2014

S.o.t.D. - Halley Road – Asura

Halley Road – Asura

Another awe inspiring ambient track. Nicely accompanied by an awe inspiring video.

Bibliophilia: Banksy: The Man Behind the Wall – Will Ellsworth-Jones

Banksy: The Man Behind the Wall – Will Ellsworth-Jones
I suppose the first difficulty with this book is the aspect of how much of a biography can you really write about someone who goes to extraordinary lengths to stay out of any kind of limelight, going as far as to tell tall tales in an effort to misdirect.

And as much as I appreciate his work, I’m not sure that his anti-establishment schtick has so much credence anymore, now that for all intents and purposes he is part of the art establishment. Anyone who still thinks he is just some guy who goes out with a can of spray paint and a stencil, will be surprised to find out what a sophisticated operation is behind the Banksy mythos. Publicists, lawyers, agents, etc. This is no longer a mere vandal. Well organized gallery showings, people lined up for days to buy one of your limited edition prints, an Oscar nominated mockumentary, counterfeiters ripping you off and still managing to help further your brand, etc, and thumbing your nose at the capitalist system with an anarcho leftist stance, no matter how witty it may be, does seem to be a glaring contradiction. Still interesting to explore how someone has ridden the anonymity train to, paradoxically, fame, and wealth. Anyone hoping to discover something as pedestrian as what his identity is will be disappointed. But if you want to find out the more interesting aspects of Banksy, a little bit about the world he inhabits, the people who have helped him along the way, that you will find here.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

S.o.t.D. - Ketcher (Sahasrara Landscape Mix) – Youth

Ketcher (Sahasrara Landscape Mix) – Youth

One of the stand out tracks on this compilation. 

I love the fact that Martin Glover started out as a bassist with Killing Joke, and then every other musical direction imaginable.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

S.o.t.D. - Always – Timonkey

Always – Timonkey

Bibliophilia: V for Vendetta – Alan Moore

V for Vendetta – Alan Moore
I know this has been in lots of “10 graphic novels everyone should read” lists.

And I, being a fan of graphic novels, and generally being a fan of Alan Moore, had never read this.

And it didn’t do much for me at all. It is very much a product of 1980’s Britain, both in style and substance, and I question whether it holds up well today. The art was dark and high contrasted and I found it hard to follow in quite a few places. The characters didn’t speak to me at all. I hated them. The political posturing I thought was trite. I found the whole thing turgid.

I can recommend many graphic novels people should read. This isn’t one of them.

And I think it may be one of the few instances where the movie may indeed be better than the book.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

S.o.t.D. - Free At Last – Ambrose

Free At Last – Ambrose

Oooohhh...I’ve been on the hunt for this one for a while.

Ambrose (Reynolds) was one half of Pink Industry, and if you check out that track, you can recognize the similarity. I never heard much by Pink Industry, and only one track from this guise, but I always liked the sound. Funky bass, cool beats, echoey, spacey production. I think I discovered this on a Touch cassette, and I believe it may be my first real exposure to Martin Luther King’s Free At Last speech, and its incredible cadence. (The faith healer bit at the beginning is the scamtastic “reverend” Ernest Angely.)