Sunday, 30 June 2013

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Friday, 28 June 2013

S.o.t.D. - Together – Spectrum

Together – Spectrum

I usually think vocals detract from music in a lot of cases, but this is one case where the vocals really add to the track.

Basket Weaving

When I was in high school, across the river from us, was what I understand now to be, a “remedial high school”. At the time we called them slow kids. And some other things too. And I recall the term that was used to describe what went on over there, and what in general was described as an activity not worthy of any merit, as “basket weaving.” It was a term used derisively.

As a 14 year old numbskull, I didn’t give that aspersion much thought. Now, a few decades on from that, and perhaps slightly less numbskullish, I realize that slight was very undeserved. It seems to me increasingly that it is a real shame basketry is regarded so frivolously. I wasn’t one of the slow kids, but I now wonder if I wasn’t done a disservice by not being taught some basket weaving. 

I grasp now that it is a genuinely interesting activity, one that requires skill, a design and engineering sense, demonstrating form following function, showing a visible line to many earlier attempts and iterations, reaching back many generations, used local materials, was a perfect solution to many requirements, was very strong and durable, lasted for a long time and could then be disposed of safely, and undoubtedly gave the maker and user a tremendous sense of satisfaction at having used their hands and eyes and brain in conjunction to make something both functional and aesthetically pleasing. Basketry was used for everything from carriers of all sorts, boats, armour, coops and cages for animals, hats, fishing weirs, bee baskets (properly called “skeps”), houses - and I’m sure there are several other uses I’m forgetting.

In the last bunch of years I’ve certainy been aware of it as a “primitive/archaic/bushcraft” skill, but it is one that I haven’t taken a try at. Not for lack of interest, but just because I have so many other things on the go. In the BBC Farm series I mentioned, there was usually at least one episode that featured someone demonstrating the making of a basket of some sort. It’s gotten me in the mindset that I should give it a try. For some time now I’ve realized that for any sort of wild food harvesting/foraging, a large open topped pack basket makes a lot of sense. I have an idea to try making one that I can mount on my Kifaru PackFrame. I suspect there will be several smaller, very imperfect attempts before I tackle a larger model, but I will do it. Already stripped the library of every book they have on basketry.

This site has a really great overview of pack basket designs. http://74fdc.wordpress.com/2013/01/18/woven-backpacks-design-rooted-in-history-and-tradition/
Some examples of what I will work towards making.
http://duluthpack.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=Basket+pack
And some lovely general examples of basketry.
http://www.melindawest.com/
Good tutorial. Good site overall. http://www.jonsbushcraft.com/basicbasket.htm

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

S.o.t.D. - Bridge to Nowhere – Sam Roberts

Bridge to Nowhere – Sam Roberts

He’s some kind of Canadian singer-songwritery dude I don’t pay that much attention to. Pleasant enough I suppose, and I do quite like this song.

Monday, 24 June 2013

S.o.t.D. - Empire Song – Killing Joke

Empire Song – Killing Joke

I can only find live versions of this, but this is the best of the lot. I think this may have served as my introduction to Killing Joke. And it definitely made me a believer.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

S.o.t.D. - La Bear Song – Les Hay Babies


They remind me a little of the Good Lovelies - three cute gals in a band with a great name who sing lovely folky/country-ish harmonies, and play various stringed instruments - but they’re Acadians from New Brunswick.

Friday, 21 June 2013

S.o.t.D. - Dayvan Cowboy – Boards of Canada

Dayvan Cowboy – Boards of Canada

I think I may have featured a remix or a cover of a song I’ve posted previously, but I don’t think I’ve featured the same song twice before. But when I saw that someone had done a re-take on the original video for Dayvan Cowboy and replaced the footage of Col. Joseph Kittinger and his record setting jump, with Felix Baumgartner’s record breaking jump, I knew I had to post it. And besides - it’s Boards of Canada.

Now Baumgartner is a stud and all, and what he did is impressive as all get out, and I’m glad the technology has improved to the point that it was filmed a lot better than the 1960 jump. But for my money, Kittinger and his jump will always be the stuff of legend.

Cootes Paradise Cleanup

I mentioned a cleanup around Cootes Paradise I participated in a while back. Went and helped again a few weeks ago.
On Princess Point, looking west towards Dundas peak.
 On Princess Point, looking east towards the Iroquois bar.
Some of the volunteers hard at work.
A section of the cleaned up shoreline.

The work was like a combination archeological dig/forensic crime scene investigation. Because of the flow pattern, all the plastic lands on that side. Over time, rocks, logs, UV light and wave action serve to grind it all up into tiny little pieces. The aim is to try and get as much of that as possible out. Which pretty much requires kneeling and painstakingly picking out every little piece. 

An idea of what we were cleaning up. Tampon applicators, cigarello ends, sucker sticks, straws, coffee cup lids, etc. Essentially anything that would float - ie plastic.
Another aspect of the cleanup was removing the logs and branches from the shoreline. Combined with wave action, they roll back and forth, smash into one another, and consequently grind the plastic into little pieces. They were placed by the side of the path so the city can come by with a tree chipper and spray the wood back onto the shoreline.
Princess Point.
Good work team!

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Margaret Mead

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

S.o.t.D. - Big Strong Boss – Swans

Big Strong Boss – Swans

While I tend to like their more melodic, later period stuff, I won’t deny that their earlier, pre-Jarboe stuff also had a hell of an impact on me. Listening to several hours of Filth, Cop and Greed on head phones was a mind altering experience. Not an angst ridden teenager any more, but the power of this hasn’t dissipated. Loud, brutal and aggressive. This is what heavy metal wished it was.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

S.o.t.D. - Just Another Day – Brain Eno

Just Another Day – Brain Eno

Great song by the great Eno. And the time lapse video of a wooded area over the course of a year that accompanies it is very appropriate. Read a little further in the description, and it turns out it was filmed on the north shore of the Thames River in Komoka Provincial Park, west of London, Ontario, Canada. Hey! I know that area quite well.

Monday, 17 June 2013

S.o.t.D. - Protoplasm – X-Dream

Protoplasm – X-Dream

While the whole Goa or psy-trance scene way too often produces derivative fondue filler, a couple of acts transcend the dross. Juno Reactor come to mind immediately. And X-Dream is another act that I always thought was exceptional. This track is an incredibly intense barn stormer, with this skittering sound over top of a hang on for dear life rhythm. 

Sunday, 16 June 2013

A Farm For The Future

I mentioned Wartime Farm a few days back. The last few days I’ve been enjoying the hell out of Edwardian Farm. Absolutely love these series! I cannot recommend them enough.

Both of these shows, set in about a half century period, say approximately 1900-1905 to 1940-1945, have gotten me thinking about two things.

One is that Edwardian Farm is set in the Tamar Valley. The Tamar River is the dividing line between Devon and Cornwall. If I was to visit England, that area is the one I would go to. Something about that landscape - the rolling hills, with its quilt like expanse of hedged fields, the moorlands - really spark my imagination.


The other thing is that they both have me thinking about how agriculture was at one time carried out. And whether we might not be wise to study how things were done fifty to a hundred years ago, and glean what knowledge we can before it’s too late.

After reading Jeff Rubin’s two books, The End of Growth and Why Your World Is About To Get A Whole Lot Smaller, I have been reading about peak oil even more. And specifically how it relates to agriculture.

It caused me to give some thought to this documentary I saw a few years ago. One, because it’s set in the beautiful hills of Devon. But also because it is a sobering look at what is heading down the pipeline. I’m usually a glass half full sort of guy. But this issue has me apprehensive about what we are to face as cheap and plentiful oil starts to disappear. The lifestyle people have grown accustomed to is in for a radical change. 

Done in 2009 by Rebecca Hosking and Tim Green for BBC2. Both unsettling and hopeful, it looks at some alternatives to the unsustainable system we have in place now. Whether they will be enough, and whether we have time...that’s something else.

If you find this subject as engrossing as I do, look into the work of Joel Salatin. I was introduced to him in Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma (a book I recommend everyone read), and his work on Polyface Farms, is a look into how farming can and should be done. 

S.o.t.D. - Treat Me Like Your Mother – The Dead Weather

Treat Me Like Your Mother – The Dead Weather

This video will piss off anti-gun people. Whoopsie.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

S.o.t.D. - Come Into My World – Kylie Minogue

Come Into My World – Kylie Minogue

Someone asked me recently what constituted a guilty pleasure. I said it was watching Kylie Minogue videos while eating butterscotch pudding. Can’t help it. Both are enjoyable once in a rare while. And let’s face it, this is a fun video.

Friday, 14 June 2013

S.o.t.D. - Upland – Bel Canto

Upland – Bel Canto

Not sure how many musical acts there have been from north of the Arctic Circle, but I think this one is my favourite. Hailing from Tromsø in Norway, their sound seems to embody the place. Ethereal, yet grounded. Cold, yet warm. Geir Jenssen (aka Biosphere) was also a member of the group for the first four years of its existence. 

Thursday, 13 June 2013

S.o.t.D. - Think A Moment – LFO

Think A Moment – LFO

Always dug the way their tracks built, with elements being gradually added. Love that snappy snare that enters at about 1:30.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Bibliophilia: Earth Flight by John Downer

Birds, scenery, photos. Good. Accompanies a DVD, which I’m sure is a notch above the photos.

S.o.t.D. - Flow – Dol-lop

Flow – Dol-lop

Off of a terrific album, Cryptic Audio on Colin Newman’s Swim label. Came out in 1997. And then....nothing. Japanese fella, Yoshio Maeda. Wish he had put out some other material.

Bibliophilia: Beowulf by Gareth Hinds

I’m somewhat chagrined to say that I haven’t read the original, and really couldn’t tell you that much about it. This filled in some of the holes in my knowledge, and hopefully one day I’ll get around to reading a proper version of this. Have to say the art in this was a very apropos accompaniment.

Monday, 10 June 2013

S.o.t.D. - Let The Happiness In – David Sylvian

Let The Happiness In – David Sylvian

It seems I’m on a bit of a David Sylvian kick these last few days.

Song of the Paddle by Bill Mason

What’s the next best thing to going on a canoe trip? Watching Song of the Paddle by Bill Mason. Another one of his films that like Paddle to the Sea, had a powerful impact on me as a youngster, giving me a taste of how fantastic canoeing might be. And I’m happy to report it was borne out by my subsequent real life experiences.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

S.o.t.D. - Night Porter – Japan

Night Porter – Japan

I’m no musical expert, but this is in the time signature of a waltz I think. Whatever it is, it’s a beautiful piece of music.

Routefinding Along the Escarpment

This is one of those “Why haven’t I done this before?” instances. When I walk on the Radial Trail along the Niagara Escarpment, I often return that way, and if I do return below the Escarpment I usually walk back along the Rail Trail, or along the shore of Cootes Paradise. Decided to see if there were any trails to be found right along the bottom of the Escarpment, right below Highway 403. Houses butt up pretty close against it, but there is still a strip of woodland and I was curious if there was a trail or path of some kind to be found in there. 
But first I was accosted by this little cutey.
 Oh boy! Rasslin’!
Birds! And that was the end of that.
Chedoke Golf Course.
Looking back at the Escarpment across the railyard.
Looking up at the Niagara Escarpment from White Chapel Cemetery.
And, as it turns out, there weren’t any trails to be found. Well, there are some trails through the woods, but not all the way at the start, where you cross over the 403 at the  Rail Trail crossing. Part of the way you can do in the forest, and part you do on city streets. Still, always good to get out for a walk, and learn a little more about my surrounding.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

S.o.t.D. - Forbidden Colour/Forbidden Dub – Mark Stewart

Forbidden Colour/Forbidden Dub – Mark Stewart

Finally, someone posted this. I have played these two tracks probably thousands, tens of thousands of times over the years. A cover of the Ryuichi Sakamoto/David Sylvian tracks from the Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence soundtrack. Their version is considerably airier. This one is a more ominous version, that really hangs on the edge.

Friday, 7 June 2013

S.o.t.D. - Stranger – Clan of Xymox

Stranger – Clan of Xymox

I don’t how it’s possible that I missed posting this. The standout track on a terrific album. A bit outside 4ADs usual oeuvre, but it certainly made me sit up and take notice.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Monday, 3 June 2013

S.o.t.D. - Sweetest Pain – Dexter Wansel

Sweetest Pain – Dexter Wansel

Yesterdays track, Turn Off The Light by Quarion and also The Way (Secret Ingredients Remix) by Global Communications sample this 70’s Philadelphia soul classic.

Wartime Farm

I mentioned an episode of Time Team recently that dealt with “experimental architecture”. In the same post I mentioned this superb series from the BBC that took the idea of experimental architecture, or perhaps more accurately “living history”, quite a bit further

While I find history fascinating, too often it deals with which king invaded which neighbouring land, and which general won which battle. Interesting in its own way, but to me the more mundane day to day life is far more interesting. What sort of houses did people live in? How did they build them? What did they eat? How did they prepare it? What sort of household goods did they use? What tools and techniques did they use to make them? What sort of clothing did people wear? How did they make them? Were those clothes truly suited to the environment or tasks performed, or defined by the limitations of the materials available and manufacturing techniques possible? Not so much the who and the when, but more the what and the how.

To me this is just superb television. It’s 8 hours of incredibly educational watching. Wearing period garb, and using contemporary equipment, and with many subject matter experts coming on for various segments, this gives a very vivid look at the day to day affairs of a historical period. Love this show. I knew that there was rationing in Britain, and that U-Boats were choking off the supply of many goods. But seeing this gave me a whole new appreciation of what people went through between 1939-1945. Given that the start of the war came off the tail end of the Depression, that must have added a layer of difficulty.

I’ve seen Tales From the Green Valley, and Victorian Farm. Now I’ve watched this series. Then I still need to watch Edwardian Farm. Oh and there is also another variant, Victorian Pharmacy.

And I’m sure there will be critics who claim that a mere year wouldn’t be enough to get a full sense of the difficulties farmers faced, or that they’re just playing at it, or that they have the benefit of hindsight. Don’t care. Those are all just pedantic quibbles. I think this is great educational television.

One thing that struck me is how much things have changed, both in how agriculture is done, and also how life in Britain in general has changed. Technology, social mores, etc. And it really wasn’t so long ago. There are still people alive who remember the era, and I was born a mere quarter century after WW2. Reading about it doesn’t give the same sense of a period as seeing it recreated like this. And I also wonder how todays populace of the UK, or any where in the western world would fare in the face of these sorts of challenges.

Watching this also made me wonder what the effects of Peak Oil might have on our own agricultural system, and if we can learn anything from the challenges faced by farmers in the UK in the mid 20th century.








Sunday, 2 June 2013

Bibliophilia: Power Down, Coup d’État, The Last Refuge by Ben Coes

Power Down – Ben Coes
Coup d’État – Ben Coes
The Last Refuge – Ben Coes

Novels in the Brad Thor/Vince Flynn vein. Nothing very deep, just a few evenings of escapist fun. About as subtle as being T-boned by a truck, and even less plausible than the afore mentioned writers, but a guilty pleasure. And they also suffer from the same sorts of utterly banal covers that the Vince Flynn books have. There must be a factory that churns out generic images with a building in Washington/seal of some branch of government/guy with a gun/explosion and some sort of gauzy, waving Stars and Stripes super or under-imposed just for these sorts of novels.

S.o.t.D. - Turn Off The Light – Quarion

Turn Off The Light – Quarion

This deep, soulful groover features samples from Dexter Wansel’s Sweetest Pain.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Bibliophilia: Down the Mysterly River by Bill Willingham

I enjoyed it thoroughly, but then I’m biased because I adore Fables. Aimed at young adults, but you can read it as an adult and still enjoy it a lot. Little bit dark, but not that dark. Some violence, but fairly tame. Heroes quest, an unlikely band of protagonists, talking animals, mysterious bad guys, suspense, ruminations on the meaning of friends and also on books and characters in books. It can be read as a fun kids with talking animals and a resourceful boy scout, or as a deeper exploration of literary themes.

S.o.t.D. - Elysian Fields – Artemis

Elysian Fields – Artemis 

Good Looking/Looking Good sounding good. Compared to yesterdays track, the softer side of D&B.

Your Ten Best Tools

Don’t know when this poster dates from, but it’s still an important  message today.

Artisans of Australia: Timbercraft

I’ve watched this a few times in the last few years and I come away envious each time. Always love seeing craftspeople who really know how to use their tools, and seeing these two gentlemen wield various axes, (as well as a crosscut felling saw, a froe, and a drawknife), they are clearly masters. I’ve felled trees with an axe quite a few times, but hewing a log with a broad axe and an adze is something I’ve never done. These two, Bill Boyd and Mark Garner make it look easy. Plus, Mr. Garner wears a great looking hat while he does it. 

Filmed in 1984, this short film shows efforts to restore Coolamine Homestead in the Kosciuszko National Park. I appreciate not only that they made an effort to rebuild these structures, (drop slab alpine ash timber huts to be precise - examples of a building technique in sync with the surrounding environment), but also that they used the tools and techniques that would have been used at the time of its construction, circa the 1880’s.

I have to wonder though, 30 years after this film was made, whether anyone is left in Australia who could do this work. I suspect that misters Boyd and Garner were a rare breed even then.