Sunday, 29 July 2012

S.o.t.D. - Drifting – Lemongrass

Drifting – Lemongrass 

One of those acts that seems capable of tackling a large range of styles and knocking them all out of the park. This combines Nina Simone samples with break beats and a sub woofer workout bass line.

Friday, 27 July 2012

S.o.t.D. - Dark Goggles – Baby Mammoth

Dark Goggles – Baby Mammoth 

No idea how to categorize this, but I like it.

Bibliophilia: Shi: Ju-nen by William Tucci

Not entirely sure what is all going on in this. Some kind of war between rival sects, and the protagonist has to try and avert it. Found it kind of tough to follow, since a story that preceded this (about a decade ago) is referenced fairly often. Bunch of things going on here that weren’t clear to me. Really distracting trying to read this when every page offers a leggy kabuki/samurai/ninja/geisha babe. “Oh I would love to tofu her banzai. Damn where was I again?” And the fourth chapter seems to totally drop off in the art part. Quite polished for the first three, and then the last one seems to have been roughly inked and coloured.

Thursday, 26 July 2012


While I’ve spent a fair bit of time in canoes, I’ve never been in a sail boat. Just never had the opportunity.

Keven down at Bay Sails, said that I should come out to the Royal Hamilton Yacht Club on a Tuesday or Thursday evening when they have races, and I could go out on the Bay. Reminded me several times. I finally took him up on the offer. Perfect day. Hot, clear, but windy.

I chatted with him on the phone and he said that if I couldn’t go on his boat, I could certainly go on some one elses boat.  Indeed when I got to the dock Keven says, “Hey you’re going to go with Mark. It turns out he knows your nephew.” Wow. Small world. He had mentioned a while ago that he had gone sailing with his school chum Justin. “Yeah his dad Mark, went to school with my dad.” With hundreds and hundreds of sailing boats on the Bay, what are the odds?

Mark says, “I took Anand and Justin out sailing again last night, and just before we set out Keven came by and I asked him about all the stuff going on over at Hanks. Keven says ‘Oh him and another guy are doing some renos in the attic because they’re going to build two cedar strip kayaks in the attic.’ Anand yells ‘Hey! That’s my uncle!’ ”

The boat used in these races is the George Hinterhoeller design from 1959, the Shark 24, a very popular racing yacht, with many (thousands) of them plying the Great Lakes. (The photos in the link are all on Burlington Bay.)
The boat. The ‘Bacardi.’
Heading out of the marina towards Burlington.
A laker by Pier 6.
Some of the other (many other) boats out on the Bay.
Keven going past in his Shark.
I know in my head that Burlington Bay is a large body of water, but being out in the middle of it really drives the point home.
Steel plants.
Mark at the helm and Tom manning the sails. They’ve been sailing together for decades and operate like a well oiled machine. Watching Tom gamboling around on a pitching and rolling sail boat, was quite impressive. The only apprehension I had about being out on the water was that I would turn out to be a totally useless boob, getting in the way, standing on ropes, etc. But I think I did all right. While I’m essentially a land lubber, I think my saving grace is that I’m pretty common-sensical. I pay attention and cottoned on to what needed to happen pretty quickly.
Steel mills. I’ve said it before, but even with the heavy industry on the waterfront, this has to be one of the most scenic places in Canada to live. I can only imagine how sweet it would be if those steel plants hadn’t ever been put there. But, it had to go somewhere. And Hamilton it was.
Heading towards the Skyway Bridge.
Mark let me take the helm for about 20 minutes while he got the jib sail down. I didn’t cause any accidents or anything. Fun getting to steer a boat. Tom had a cap on when we set out, but it blew off while setting up the spinnaker on one of the three times it was unfurled.
I steered the boat towards the High Level Bridge and when given the direction, turned it to port to head back to the marina.

Uhhhh....super fun! I can definitely see the appeal of sailing. Not that I never had an interest, but just haven’t had the opportunity. There is definitely a sizeable learning curve involved, but talk about opening up a lot of possibilities.

S.o.t.D. - 100 Billion Stars – Lux

100 Billion Stars – Lux

I don’t think I’ve played this one 100 billion times, but at least about 10,000 times.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

S.o.t.D. - Breaking Hands – The Gun Club

Breaking Hands – The Gun Club 

Not a band I had paid much attention to before, but Robin Guthrie’s production on this album made me sit up and pay attention.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

View From The ISS At Night

S.o.t.D. - Underpass – John Foxx

Underpass – John Foxx 

Makes a great soundtrack for reading Concrete Island or Crash by J.G. Ballard. From 1980s Metamatic. One of those early electronic albums that had quite an effect on me, and which I still dig 32 years later. The whooshy synth sound that takes the last minute of this track out, I particularly dig.

Go buy a map?

Any one that knows me will probably point out that I am ridiculously prepared. But if I am just popping over to the groceteria for a few things, the chance that I will be all that prepared is far less likely. I’m not bringing all my maps of the area with me if I’m strolling to the park with my nephew to kick a ball around for an hour. If you ask me where a street is and it’s a block or two away, I can direct you. Ask me about a street on the other side of town, a part of town I’m just not familiar with, you’re out of luck. I always help people when I can, but I can’t possibly recall every name of every street and the precise turn by turn directions of how to get there in a city the size of the one I live in.

I had a guy stop me the other day and ask me where Whitefish Crescent was. No idea. A crescent is a suburb thing. There are no suburban areas anywhere near here. “I really don’t think it’s in a 5 km, 10 km radius of here. I don’t know...go buy a map maybe?”

Went home and looked it up. It was more than 20 km away, so far out, it was practically in a whole other city. So dude had no idea where he was, no idea where he needed to be was, no idea how to get from here to there.

I worked in Mississauga for a few years, in a sprawling warren of an industrial complex. I got to where I needed to be, walked to a place nearby to get lunch once in a while, went home at the end of the day. I didn’t become familiar with every street and road in the area. Returning from dropping some mail in the box a woman stops me and asks me where a particular street was.
“Sorry, no idea. Go to the variety store over there and buy a  map maybe?”

I know, she probably thought Dennis Leary wrote a song about me. But really. If you need to get somewhere, and you don’t bother to figure it out ahead of time, expecting that a random stranger on the street can accurately direct you is wishful at best. A map can direct you perfectly.

A few years ago I wandered over to my barber for a haircut, when two women in a car asked me where a street was. Didn’t sound familiar, so I told them I couldn’t help them. “Go buy a map maybe?” 

When I got home my curiosity made me look it up. It was a short street somewhere up on the Mountain, diagonally on the other side of the city. Never had cause to be there, totally unfamiliar with the area. So here these dips were, aimlessly driving around, not sure where they were, no idea how to get to where they were supposed to be, hoping that random strangers far from their intended location could direct them perfectly to it.

Maybe I’m strange, but if I am going to an area I don’t know, I research it ahead of time. There is this incredible invention called the internet. It provides you with maps, directions, now even photos of the exact place you have to be. Even when it didn’t exist there was a thing called a library, chock a block full of great info. Or I just ask of the place I am going to if they can give me some clues. If not, many places sell cheap gold mines of information called maps. If the place I am in currently doesn’t have those maps, I will get one the instant I hit the ground in an unfamiliar location.

This all seems amazingly logical to me. But I am probably strange.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Behind My Sisters House

S.o.t.D. - Underdub – Omnimotion

Underdub – Omnimotion 

Hearing this track brings back really nice memories of the first few days I spent where I’m living now. A friend had lent me a CD, Infinessence, a compilation from Interchill. Lots of great tracks on it, but this was one of my favourites. I walked about 20 kilometers, on a cold but sunny day, this being part of the soundtrack of that exploring my surroundings walk.

Waiting Out The Thunderstorm

Sunday, 22 July 2012

S.o.t.D. - Drum Test – Meat Beat Manifesto

Drum Test – Meat Beat Manifesto 

Holy funk! If there is any one who knows how to lay down tight, snappy, insanely funky beats, it’s Jack Dangers. Oh and there is a cute kitten at the end too!

Carroll’s Point & the Bay

I was thinking the other day that I have photographed this spot a bunch of times over the years. Whenever I cross the McQuesten High Level Bridge, I have to stop to admire the view, and invariably snap a few shots. Looking back at some of them, it struck me how different they all look. Different times of year and times of day. Some different angles as well.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

S.o.t.D. - Kairo (Carl Craig Remix) – Spacetime Continuum

Kairo (Carl Craig Remix) – Spacetime Continuum  

Another of those tracks that I had on a mix tape that got chewed up or lent to someone never to be returned, and the memory of it slipped my mind. Stumbled across it again. Joy. One of those seemingly simple techno tracks - stomping bass, snappy drums, a catchy melody - and super fun to burn a few calories to on the floor.

Friday, 20 July 2012

S.o.t.D. - The Paris Match – The Style Council (Feat Tracey Thorn)

The Paris Match – The Style Council (Feat Tracey Thorn) 

Never paid that much attention to Style Council (I already pay attention to way too much music. Something worthwhile is bound to slip through.) Apparently this is from 1984’s Café Bleu, (My Ever Changing Moods in the US), and also features a version with Paul Weller singing. But I love EBTG and Tracey’s voice, so I’ll go with this very smooth version.

Bibliophilia: Light at the Edge of the World: A Journey Through the Realm of Vanishing Cultures by Wade Davis

Light at the Edge of the World: A Journey Through the Realm of Vanishing Cultures – Wade Davis

Some of the text in here I recognized from some of his other work, the earlier Clouded Leopard and the later published, but previously read Massey Lecture inspired book, The Wayfinders. Given that he is as distinguished as he is, and that I love his writing style and that it fuels my interest in anthropology, I will happily overlook his copying of his own work.

A few paragraphs that end the book:

    The triumph of secular materialism is the conceit of modernity. But what are the features of this life? An anthropologist from a distant land visiting America, for example, would note many wondrous things. But he would no doubt be puzzled to learn that 20 percent of the people control 80 percent of the wealth, that the average child has by the age of eighteen spent a full two years passively watching television. Observing that over half of our marriages end in divorce and that only 6 percent of our elders live with a relative, he might question the values of a society that so readily break the bonds of marriage and abandons its aged, even as its men and women exhaust themselves in jobs that only reinforce their isolation from their families. Certainly a slang term such as 24/7 , implying as it does the willingness of an employee to be available for work at all times, seems excessive, though it would explain the fact that the average American father spends only eighteen minutes a day in direct communication with his child. And what of our propensity to compromise the very life supports of our planet? Extreme would be one word for a civilization that contaminates with is waste the air, water, and soil; that drives plants and animals to extinction; that dams the rivers, tears down the ancient forests, rips holes in the protective halo of the heavens and does little to curtail industrial processes that threatens to transform the bio-chemistry of the very atmosphere.
    Once we look through the anthropological lens and see, perhaps for the first time, that all cultures have unique attributes that reflect choices made over generations, it becomes absolutely clear that there is no universal progression in the lives and destiny of human beings. No trajectory of progress. Were societies to be ranked on the basis of technological prowess, the Western scientific experiment, radiant and brilliant, would no doubt come out on top. But if the criteria of excellence shifted, for example, to the capacity to thrive in a truly sustainable manner, with a true reverence and appreciation for the Earth, the Western paradigm would fail. If the imperatives driving the highest aspirations of our species were to be the power of faith, the reach of spiritual intuition, the philosophical generosity to recognize the varieties of religious longing, then our dogmatic conclusions would again be found wanting.
    Viewed from this broader perspective, the notion that indigenous societies are archaic, that their very presence represents some impediment, is transparently wrong. As David Maybury-Lewis has written, indigenous people do not stand in the way of progress; rather, they contribute to it if given the chance. Their cultural survival does not undermine the nation state; it serves to enrich it, if the state is willing to embrace diversity. And most important of all, these cultures do not represent failed attempts at modernity, marginal peoples who somehow missed the technological train to the future. On the contrary, these peoples, with their dreams and prayers, their myths and memories, teach us that there are indeed other ways of being, alternative visions of life, birth, death and creation itself. When asked the meaning of being human, they respond with then thousand different voices. It is within the diversity of knowledge and practice, of intuition and interpretation, of promise and hope, that we will all rediscover the enchantment of being what we are, a conscious species aware of our place on the planet and fully capable not only of doing no harm but of ensuring that all creatures in every garden find a way to flourish.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Primitive Shoes by Margrethe Hald

For any one with an interest in making simple shoes of some form, and would like to try something other than moccasins, or has an interest in primitive skills from different parts of the world, this will be appealing. A thorough treatise on simple shoes from Denmark predominantly, and other parts of northern Europe as well, from about the Viking age and earlier.


For the first time in at least a decade, high rise cranes are appearing on the skyline of Hamilton. Two hotels are being built downtown (one has been completed, and another is being built diagonally across from it. This one requires two cranes. I always find it cool to watch them being assembled and disassembled. Can’t help but think that it is a job I would love to do.

Morning Stroll

Wandered down to the sail loft early one morning last week, and is my wont, stopped to snap a few pics along the way.
Taken from the bridge on Bay St. The newspaper has been full of editorials lately with well meaning but naive people stating these marshaling yards are squandering prime waterfront property and should be moved somewhere else, so that fabulous condos can be built in their place. Not a single one of them offers up a solution to the question, the all important question. Where? Where do they imagine they are going to move these marshaling yards to? Railways can’t operate without them, and I’m hard pressed to think where in this area they could move them. Given that a few kilometers north of here is the, if not one of the busiest railroad junctions in all of North America, and that the stretch between here and Oakville is the, if not one of the busiest stretches of track in North America, these calls strike me as blithering foolishness. Sure it would be lovely if they weren’t here. But they’ve been there for 150 years. It’s too late for any of that given the amount of growth that has occurred around here in those decades. And let’s not get into how much it would cost to re-mediate that land.
Bayfront Park.
My view to the left as I sat and had a delicious coffee.
My view to the right as I sat and had a delicious coffee.
Dundurn Castle from the other side.
Burlington on the opposite shore.
Bucolic scenery.

S.o.t.D. - 1000 Miles – Ten Madison

1000 Miles – Ten Madison 

Wavers between being background music and foreground music.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Got a new tattoo

So the tattoo shop celebrated its 13th anniversary yesterday. 

In honour of the occasion, all the tattoo artists (and me) contributed designs of the number 13. 
The idea was that on Friday the 13th, for $13 you could pick a 13 design and have it tattooed on you, to mark the 13th anniversary of Cottage 13. When I got up this morning I had the notion that I would get Bryce, the very talented apprentice, to do one of Andrew’s designs on my right ankle. 

I had a bunch of running around to do, and showed up at the shop around 17:00. Had a beer, ate some food. Sat around and chatted with everyone, laughed, ate some more, had another beer. Was delighted to learn that two of my contributions had been chosen and permanently marked on customers. Somehow or other during all this the subject of letting the son of the owners have a go injecting some ink into my skin was broached. Either he suggested it, I suggested it, I don’t recall. “When Bryce is tattooing me, I’ll let you take the machine and give it a try.” I believe another beer or three was consumed. He took one of the designs that Bryce had done and with some tracing paper went over it. The idea of him having a go wielding a tattoo machine kept being discussed. His dad took the design that he had traced, showed him how to make a stencil, which he then placed on my left ankle. 
With a liner (a thin marker) and a shader (a thick marker) he went over the design. He confessed that it made him a little nervous and that it made his hands a little shaky. 
But he did okay.

An idea that may have been said slightly in jest originally, became just perfect. It wasn’t the design I had originally contemplated, it certainly wasn’t the artist I had originally contemplated, it wasn’t even on the side I had originally contemplated, was magically right.

I have known him since he was born. I love him more than anything in the world. I have known his parents for a long time. They mean the world to me. I have been affiliated in some small way with the shop since day 1. The place means a great deal to me.

This was not a design that necessarily fits into the grand scheme of designs I have plotted out for my body. It’s a fun souvenir piece, something to mark a place that means something to us on a significant milestone. 

Getting him to do it was... really perfect. There were six supremely talented artists there who could have done it. I chose my 9 year old pal to do it. I asked his parents and everyone else if they were okay with him doing it. No one raised any objections. The stencil was prepared and put on, and Andrew showed him how a machine was set up.
I really wasn’t in the least bit worried about any of it. I wasn’t expecting perfection, to be honest, some errors would add to the charm of the piece. And his dad was right there to take over if he wasn’t up to the task, but we were all quite willing to give him a shot. Let him gain an understanding of what it is the tattooing process is all about. He dipped the tip of the machine in the cap of ink, pressed the pedal, and....started tattooing me. 
He was a bit hesitant at first....
...there were times when he didn’t even get the needles in all the way.
But he got the hang of it.
Because of the spot it’s in, I couldn’t help but have an involuntary twitch a few times. I was admonished to hold my foot still. Wait’ll you get a tattoo there, little buddy.
Dad showing him some techniques (and doing the outlining on some of the trickier serifs.)
Give it a wipe.
Dad supervising.
Bryce the apprentice looking on to see how it’s done. I don’t recall who but one wag got a good laugh out of everyone when he cracked “Lookit! Those lines are almost as good as what Bryce is doing.” I think a good portion of an apprenticeship consists of being ribbed as often as possible.
Put on some Vaseline.
 The artist himself.

I gave him the $13 plus a $7 tip and a big hug.
And the finished results the next morning. He went beyond the line in a few places, he missed a few spots, but I don’t care in the least. Its “imperfection” makes it perfect to me. It’s a fun souvenir, and has more to do with a time and place and the person who did it than anything else. I figure it’s good to give him an opportunity, and hope it gives him an appreciation and understanding of what his dad and other artists do. I suppose there aren’t many 9 year olds who can claim to have done a tattoo.