Wednesday, 30 April 2014

S.o.t.D. - Love On A Real Train – Tangerine Dream

Love On A Real Train – Tangerine Dream

TD are one of those acts I feel I should be a big fan of, but for some reason they’ve largely escaped my attention. This is really the one track that I am most familiar with. Too bad it’s from a Tom Cruise movie, but still a fantastic track.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

S.o.t.D. - Certain Trust – Delerium

Certain Trust – Delerium

First thing I ever heard off the first release of this Front Line Assembly offshoot. Never liked F.L.A. much, but this I loved. Sadly, too many other things competing for my attention and money for me to ever pursue their entire catalogue. 

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

S.o.t.D. - River (feat. Shura) – Hiatus

River (feat. Shura) – Hiatus

Fantastic song, but the second half has a more upbeat feel than the first, more relaxing half. I think the stringed instrument used might be a Zheng or a Koto.

Frankie Venom Statue

There has been a bit of a brouhaha in my neighbourhood recently. Namely $200,000 of tax payer money for a statue of Frankie “Venom” Kerr, lead singer of Hamilton punk rock band Teenage Head.

A lot of people were not thrilled about this. Myself included.

Besides the considerable amount of money for a statue of someone not a particularly well known or popular figure, many felt the process was rather heavy handed, with little to no public consultation. The usually dependable Brian McHattie, the ward councillor, had been approached by local musician Tom Wilson about the idea, and had run with it.

After considerable public backlash, a meeting was convened. I made sure to attend. 

The whole thing just feels contrived to me, and like historical revisionism. Attempts to portray him as a popular entertainer of the people are fanciful at best. Having been a participant in the punk scene in London, Ontario 30+ years ago, I can tell you that it was an outsider art form. There was no mainstream media interest, massive crowds didn’t come to the shows, average people didn’t recognize musicians on the street and ask for autographs. If anything, being punk rock meant there was a good chance some assholes might try to beat you up. If nothing else, you were subjected to verbal harassment, discriminated against, and generally made to feel unwelcome in many places.

I also have some serious doubts about any real, lasting cultural relevance he or his band had. I question whether they were all that influential. Sorry, I don’t think Teenage Head was ever that interesting. Bands like Crass presented an articulate and consistent political message. I might not necessarily agree with it, but it was far more profound than the seeming “let’s get wasted and party” aesthetic that a band like Teenage Head espoused. And I don’t think punk of the late 70s, early 80s was meant to be a lot more than an ephemeral art form. It wasn’t meant to be fawned over and mythologized years later by people who weren’t even there. 

Wilson and his daughter Madeline got up and stated that the statue was tied into an effort to create a health insurance plan for musicians. (Something that like most everything else about this was not communicated.) I guess in an attempt to make people care about this. Their efforts to draw some kind of connection between the two disparate issues just left a vast chasm of “huh?” for everyone in the audience. It seems like a fanciful pipe dream at this point, and one doesn’t follow from the other.

I guess it’s all for naught anyway. His family withdrew their permission for his likeness to be used. They felt as though his legacy had been dragged through the mud, and felt it best to put a stop to it all.

An argument might also be made that there is no statue of Sir Alan Napier MacNab. MacNab may have been a corrupt bastard, but if there was one person who helped build Hamilton into what it is today, it’s him. If anyone from this neighbourhood has real lasting cultural and/or historical import, it’s him.

One of the things that was said about this whole boondoggle was that it was meant to promote the arts.

I don’t think tax dollars should fund the arts. But if they are going to spend that money, and the stated aim is helping artists, be they visual or musical, I don’t think a $200,000 statue (of which the city would suck up $70,000 anyway) is the way to go.

The point I raised is that in some areas there is a really vibrant poster culture. This doesn’t seem to exist here. If you really wanted to do something that could benefit illustrators and designers, silk screeners and printers and musicians (and by extension, the venues), put that money into posters.

Rather than the usual begging on Kijiji for someone to do up a CD cover and/or poster and/or T-shirt design in exchange for a copy of the CD, admission to the release show and some drink tickets, and “exposure”, how about a sum of money that makes it actually worth some creatives time? A large letterpress or silk screened full colour poster could be sent to venues to promote an upcoming tour, and be sold by the band. Both of those things have a demonstrable benefit for an act. Printing it would benefit a business. Hanging it up where the band will play, has a benefit for the venue.

The other point I raised is that my nephew is getting into music, learning to play a few different instruments and showing a fair bit of aptitude. He is fortunate that his parents are capable of purchasing those instruments and paying for lessons. Many people in this city are not so well positioned. If there is a fifth of a million dollars to spend, I would rather see that money go towards buying instruments and lessons for underprivileged kids. Or a practice space for them to come and learn and maybe meet others interested in making music. This seems like a far more worthwhile way to inspire and foment a future generation of music makers than a statue.

If the stated aim is to promote music, how about something that benefits people now and to come, not mythologize someone from the past. 
Oh look. It’s the back of my head.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Bibliophilia: Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man’s Fundamentals for Delicious Living – Nick Offerman

Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man’s Fundamentals for Delicious Living – Nick Offerman

Someone recently said to me “You’re like Ron Swanson, but without the mustache.” I had to plead ignorance on who this Ron Swanson guy was. After some investigation I learned that he’s a character on a comedic television program called “Parks and Recreation”. Since I haven’t got a TV, I had only the vaguest knowledge of the show. I watched a few best of clips on the YouTube, and laughed myself silly. I could see how my acquaintance thought we shared a few characteristics.

I further learned that Mr. Offerman is a wood worker of some talent who enjoys building wooden boats. Well. I like the character he plays, and he seems pretty cool as his usual self too.

Grabbed this autobiography, and I am now unabashedly a fan of Mr. Offerman. He just seems like a really cool, down to earth guy. Genuinely likeable. He praises and expresses gratitude to his family for a great upbringing.
He praises and expresses gratitude to his teachers for a solid education. He praises and expresses gratitude to his co-stars for their fine work. He praises and expresses gratitude to his pals for their unwavering friendship. He praises and expresses gratitude to his wife, the foxy Megan Mullaly, for her love and support.  

He was a high school jock who also liked theatre, and decided to pursue it. He did it for love of the craft, not for fame and fortune. Along the way he did other things to facilitate that love, things like the behind the scenes tasks. He seems like he would have been genuinely content building sets and doing odd carpentry jobs to survive. But that humility and decency got him a lucky break, and he rose to a level of relative renown and financial comfort. But all along he never lost sight of where he came from and who facilitated that opportunity.

There were many points where I laughed out loud, and I smiled the whole way through. His take on religion alone is fantastic. I’m sure the salty language here and there will offend some, but hey. An enjoyable read by an authentic, genial man.

If Mr. Offerman ever finds himself in my neck of the woods, a few imbibements of his choice are on me. And if I ever find myself in his neck of the woods, I hope we can go for a paddle or make a pile of shavings.

S.o.t.D. - Southern Man – Akshin Alizadeh

Southern Man – Akshin Alizadeh

The sax in this really adds a whole other level of sophistication to this soulful track.

Bibliophilia: The Initiates: A Comic Artist and a Wine Artisan Exchange Jobs – Etienne Davodeau

A book that meshes bande dessinée and viniculture. It documents the year that Davodeau spent working with wine-maker Richard Leroy. At the beginning, Davodeau knew little about how wine is made and Leroy knew almost nothing about comics. Over the course of the year, the pair talk with wine-makers and artists, and walk each other – and the reader – through the process of making a bottle of wine and producing a book, as well as the why behind each of their respective professions. The result is a fun and educational book about art and passion and what it means to work and live.

This gives a little blurb about it and shows a few pages.

And it is also a book to show to anyone who hasn’t yet grasped that “comic books” can be about so much more than superheroes.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

S.o.t.D. - Only You – Intense

Only You – Intense

One of my favourite D&B producers, who always put out really top notch stuff. Mellower than some of their other tracks, but no less fantastic.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

S.o.t.D. - October – Detz

October – Detz

It makes me sad that stuff this good remains relatively obscure.

I wish I’d been this focused as a 16 year old

Austin Hay built himself a small house on wheels so he would always have a place to live. In college, past college.

Lots of teenagers are screw-ups, but seeing someone who has his poop together at that age gives you some hope for the future.

(And the YT channel that produced this has lots of good videos. Largely about small home living, but some other worthwhile topics as well. Gardening, alternative transportation, etc.)

Thursday, 17 April 2014

S.o.t.D. - Perfect Sky – Ghosts Of Paraguay

Perfect Sky – Ghosts Of Paraguay

How much water is there on planet Earth? Not much.

This image from the U.S. Geological Survey gives you an idea of how much water there is on Earth.

This picture shows the size of a sphere that would contain all of Earth’s water in comparison to the size of the Earth. The blue sphere atop the United States, (which would cover a distance from +- Salt Lake City, Utah to +- Topeka, Kansas, has a diameter of +- 1,385 kilometers (+- 860 miles) , with a volume of +- 1,386,000,000 cubic kilometers (+- 332,500,000 cubic miles). The sphere includes all the water in the oceans, seas, ice caps, lakes and rivers as well as groundwater, atmospheric water, and even the water in all the flora and fauna, your dog, and your tomato plant.

Some amazing factoids:
• The volume of all water would be about 1,386 million cubic kilometers (km³), or 332.5 million cubic miles (mi³). A cubic kilometer of water is equal to a teralitre (10¹² litres - 1 000 000 000 000 liters). A cubic mile of water equals more than 1.1 trillion gallons.

• About 12,900 km³ (3,100 mi³) of water, mostly in the form of water vapour, is in the atmosphere at any one time. If it all fell as precipitation at once, the Earth would be covered with only about 1 inch of water.

• The 48 contiguous United States receives a total volume of about 17.7 km³ (4 mi³) of precipitation each day.

• Each day, 1,170 km³ (280 mi³)of water evaporate or transpire into the atmosphere.

• If all of the world’s water was poured on the United States, it would cover the land to a depth of 145 kilometers (90 miles).

• Of the freshwater on Earth, much more is stored in the ground than is available in lakes and rivers. More than 8,400,000 km³ (2,000,000 mi³)of freshwater is stored in the Earth, most within one-half mile of the surface. But, if you really want to find freshwater, the most is stored in the 29,200,000 km³ (7,000,000 mi³) of water found in glaciers and icecaps, mainly in the polar regions and in Greenland.

And this is how much fresh water there is, compared to Earth and the total amount of water:
All Earth’s water, liquid fresh water, and water in lakes and rivers
The sphere over the western U.S., (1384 kilometers / 860 miles in diameter) is all the water. The sphere over Kentucky, (273 kilometers / 169.5 miles in diameter) is all the fresh liquid water in the ground, lakes, swamps, and rivers. The sphere over Georgia, (56 kilometers / 34.9 miles in diameter) is all the fresh-water lakes and river.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Bibliophilia: Exile to Babylon – David Lapham

Exile to Babylon – David Lapham


In a future dystopia there is a private military contractor, made up not of retired special ops guys, but chicano street hoods arrested and given an option – jail or working for this PMC. Oh gawd.... One of their members has gone rogue and kidnapped a bunch of high level US government officials, and the heros pop star girlfriend. Groan.... And this bad guy also happens to control the last remaining supply of oil and that is where he is holding the hostages. Sigh.... And of course, who are the only people who can rescue the hostages and wrest control of this oil field away from the bad guys? Why, a bunch of just arrested gangsters without any training of course. Jeezus.... And then the plot twist you couldn’t possibly see coming from a mile away....the head of the PMC staged the whole kidnapping for his own ends. Oh come on.....

The art in this was mediocre. The part that bugged me the most being that every character has a shaven head and muddled facial tattoos. Scribbled, nothing very distinguishable, so each character looks much the same. The “good guys”, the “bad guys”. I couldn’t really tell who was who. Even if I had cared, none of these characters was in any way identifiable. Oh and the colour palette is very limited, which also doesn’t help. Combine that with an IQ reducing story, with plot points that made no sense, and I found the graphic novel that I detested more than anything I’ve read in a while.


S.o.t.D. - Wandering Spirits – Bluetech

Wandering Spirits – Bluetech

This is awesome distilled down to the purest essence of awesomeness.

Have I mentioned that Bluetech is quite possibly the greatest producer out there?

Bibliophilia: The Lost Art of Walking: The History, Science, Philosophy, and Literature of Pedestrianism – Geoff Nicholson

The Lost Art of Walking: The History, Science, Philosophy, and Literature of Pedestrianism – Geoff Nicholson

I walk a lot. So when I saw this I grabbed it, hoping to maybe gain some insights, get a new appreciation for walking, etc. 

It’s part autobiographical, part historic anecdotes about people engaged in feats of extreme pedestrianism, part lists of the subject of walking showing up in songs or movies or books.

I found it meandering and started skimming over it after a while.

To be very blunt about it, I would have gotten more out of going for a walk.

Bibliophilia: Bandette - Vol. 1: Presto! – Paul Tobin & Colleen Coover

Bandette - Vol. 1: Presto! – Paul Tobin & Colleen Coover

I have to love a book where the author/artist husband/wife team thank Modesty Blaise and “the 1960’s, France, girl detectives and cat burglars”. It has a band dessinee feel to it, and I also just generally like a book that an adult as well as young adult can enjoy. A fun if slightly silly read. The painterly style of Coover is also really cool.

But what I enjoyed even more was the appendix in the back where Colleen Coover explains her illustration process. She does layouts and pencils digitally, turns it all to a non repro blue, prints it out, does ink washes, scans it in and then colours it. Very cool technique, and I appreciate that she helps spread knowledge by sharing her technique. 

Saturday, 12 April 2014

S.o.t.D. - I.O.U. – Freeez

I.O.U. – Freeez

Breaking and BMX. Totally corny video, but still a really fun, upbeat track 30 years later.

I’m in love with this woman.

I’m in love with this woman. Or she is at the very least my heroine. And envious of her children. Those kids are rich beyond words. To have a parent who spends quality time with them, showing them how to make things, to use their imagination, to use tools, to repurpose stuff, to solve problems, etc. In an age when so many parents think merely buying something for their kids will suffice, those kids are learning real skills and will have memories they will cherish

If she hasn’t, this mom should be nominated for a super cool mom of the decade award.

Come the Battle of Hoth with ice cream and printable figures?

Fastener Chart

This handy visual overview of fasteners is courtesy of Bolt Depot, who also provide this as a printable PDF.

Fastener Categories
Head Styles
Drive Types
Nut Types
Washer Types

Friday, 11 April 2014

S.o.t.D. - Obsession – Djrum

Obsession – Djrum

What does anyone know about spacesuit design?

NASA wants the world to vote on its new spacesuit designs.

You can go here to see what they look like.

Other than the obvious “Buzz Lightyear” reaction most will have about the first suit you see, all I can think is that the average person out there knows nothing about space suit design. Why would the opinion of a yokel like me or you matter? And given that the information given is little more than a cursory look at the appearance of any of these, how could anyone provide an opinion that is worth anything? This is the lowest common denominator of American Idol being applied to something as crucial as the design of a suit meant to protect those going into outer space. This is a shallow popularity contest.

This nonsense is too goofy to be believed: “The third option is called “Trends in Society,” and with a bright color scheme mimicking athletic training gear, it’s supposed to reflect what everyday clothes might look like in the future.”

Bio Diversity Library

A friend contacted me asking about old flower illustrations for a tattoo idea. I knew I had bookmarked this. It took some digging around, but I finally found it again.

Now while the internet has made it really easy to search for images, as someone who works in a tattoo shop, the preponderance of people who come in with a small, low rez image they found on the internet, and think that that will suffice, is driving all of us to despair and drinking. Please go to the goddamn library, or buy some books that have big, clear images. Please.

Failing that, I feel I have to share this almost demented amount (1727 sets) of beautiful old illustrations of natural history of all sorts. You can spend days in here.

Flowers, leaves, animals, insects, birds, bones, eggs, horns, shells, trees, fruits, etc.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

S.o.t.D. - On My Mind – Rui Da Silva (w. Ben Onono)

On My Mind – Rui Da Silva (w. Ben Onono)

Stuff like this and the classic Touch Me, show that Da Silva knows how to craft fun, funky tunes. And he seems to be able to pick vocalists to collaborate with that really complement the track. In this instance, the singer being Ben Onono.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning

I post this every year. 

Drowning people don’t look the way movies and television portray them. Not just people with small children should read this, but I think it’s important for everyone to be able to recognize the signs of someone drowning. Far too many people drown every year, just in this province alone. Thank you to Mario Vittone for writing this.

Please read it and share it widely.

S.o.t.D. - Fading Lights – Synkro

Fading Lights – Synkro

Synkro knocks another one out of the park. Atmosphere and breaks.

How To Build An Igloo

Another great short film from the treasure that is the National Film Board of Canada.

From 1949, this ten minute film directed by Douglas Wilkinson shows how two Inuit men build a shelter in an hour and a half. I’ve expressed my admiration for the Inuit’s ability to harness what’s around them and use it in a harmonious way. And it also shows how magical the spiral is.

I’ve always harboured a dream about wanting to build an igloo and spend some time in one. But I’ve never lived anywhere that had the type of snow this requires. 

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

S.o.t.D. - Estrange – Shed

Estrange – Shed

Love that incredible echoing, booming sound René Pawlowitz manages to get on those kick drums.

Artspiration – Predators by Maxim Shkret

Young Russian artist called Maxim Shkret who creates these 3D paintings inspired by vector images.

More at the link.

FalconWatch is back

The falcon cameras are back up and running again in Crackson Square. At least one egg has been hatched. 

But you don’t even have to be there to be able to watch the falcons. Sometimes they’re terribly inconsiderate and go off flying, so there’s not much to look at. But check back.

How To Forecast Weather Without Gadgets

I don’t know the source for this, but thought it was worth sharing. As neat as all the weather predicting high tech gadgets that are out there are, people are way too caught up in the gee whiz factor of them all. Don’t become unwilling or incapable of looking around you at your environment and observing the information it presents to you.

I already knew most of these, but there were a few I didn’t know. You’re never too old to learn something new.
(Click for a larger version.)

Monday, 7 April 2014

S.o.t.D. - Different Reality (Tripswitch Remix) – Liquid Soul and Symbolic

Different Reality (Tripswitch Remix) – Liquid Soul and Symbolic

I had a shorter version of this, a teaser of the full track. Despite not being the whole song, I played it on repeat, many, many, many times. I kept periodically punching it into YT to see if it was up. Finally. Holy moly is this ever a goose bump inducing slice of smooth grooviness.

Below The Boat – Wooden Contour Maps

Discovered this recently. US company called Below The Boat, which offers wooden contour maps of various bodies of water. Various locales are offered – west coast, east coast and interior bodies of water.

The contours are crafted from laser-cut layers of Baltic birch, hand coloured and glued together. Sizes seem to be around the 3 foot by 2 foot range. It’s ready to hang, pre-framed in a custom, solid-wood frame. Prices aren’t too bad – about $250.

A few examples:
Great Lakes
Chesapeake Bay
San Francisco Bay

I’m keen on these two.
Lake Erie
Lake Huron

Just wish there was one for Lake Ontario.

Me on reality TV? Ha!

I received a message recently from a producer in New York, working on a reality TV show for A&E based on a British version called The Sewing Bee. The usual format - 8, 10, 12 contestants, and each episode they have some kind of a challenge they have to complete, and if not, off they go. I guess they’re trying to find a man / some men that sew. Looking around on the internet, she came across my blog and wanted to know if I had any interest in being on the show. I’m grotesquely hideous and have an atrocious personality. So I don’t think I should be on a TV show. But mainly, it’s all clothing. And while I’m certainly interested in making clothes, I don’t think I know nearly enough to even contemplate it. Too many other activities competing for my time and money have seen to it that that interest hasn’t received the attention it deserves.

But I sent her a message, gave her some info, some sights to check out, told her I know men that sew, but it’s often very specialized sewing they do - upholstery, parachute rigging, sail making, saddlery, outdoor gear making, etc. - and not the typical sewing on the show, ie clothing.

So if you’re a man, know something about sewing clothing and want to be on TV, get in touch and I’ll put you in touch with her.

A Tour of Accents Across the British Isles

A while back I posted something that touched on the languages in my homeland and the surprising number of accents and dialectic variation in a place so small and flat.

Old English in Friesland

Just came across this short video, that demonstrates the variety of accents to be found in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

S.o.t.D. - Bad One – Bass City Rollaz

Bad One – Bass City Rollaz

Spent a fun evening tonight with a friend as he dug through his crates playing a set of old garage tunes from about a dozen years ago. This track has a mind meltingly great bass line. Surprising to me how unknown / unappreciated a lot of this stuff is. 

AustriAlpin Cobra Buckle versus ADF Raptor Buckle

I’m a big fan of what the fine folks at CTOMS do.

They have just posted the testing they had done on two buckles. And I thought their findings were important enough to pass on.

The buckles in question are AustriAlpin’s Cobra Buckle:
And the ADF Raptor Buckle:
While there are some hipster bag makers out there using them in an absurdly overkill manner, the idea behind these buckles is to use them in critical applications – fall arrest harnesses, rappelling gear, parachuting rigs. Not only are they designed to withstand tremendous forces, but more importantly, to not open under load.

They tend to be a more expensive option, (another reason why hipster bag makers using a $25 buckle when a 25¢ buckle will suffice is so laughable), but if your life depends on it, that price is perfectly acceptable.

AustriAlpin’s offerings, as the name alludes to, come from Austria. American Direct Fabrication came along and offered a made in the U.S.A. option.

CTOMS did some tests last year on Raptor Buckles, that showed them breaking at a rating less than what is stamped on the buckle itself.

Raptor™ Buckle – Put to the Test

They just posted the results of some testing they had done of both buckles by an independent testing facility. Again, the results show Raptor Buckles breaking at a rating less than what is stamped on the buckle itself.

Cobra vs. Raptor – Head to Head

At this point in my life I have no real need for buckles like this. Sure I could use them in something I make, but truly, they would be overkill. But like I said, if you really do do things that require a buckle like this, you want to make absolutely certain that they perform as promised.

The last paragraph in the most recent article sums it up well.

“Some will argue that the Raptor Buckle is still ‘strong enough’, but I think this has become a question of integrity and accountability. If it was simply a head-to-head, one product is almost always going to be better than the other and, in this case, that appears to be so. In a free and open market, competition is a good thing and that difference in quality might be offset by price, location of manufacture, and other preferred criteria when making purchase decisions. The problem though is that pesky stamped rating that is the same between the two buckles/companies, except that the Raptor Buckle seems to have trouble meeting it, except in questionable test configurations. My question is, if you were a company, why wouldn’t you do exhaustive testing on your product in proper configuration?”

Friday, 4 April 2014

S.o.t.D. - Let The Music Play – Shannon

Let The Music Play – Shannon

Another 30 year old track that still sounds as good today as it did when it first came out. Damn are those drums sounds ever punchy.

This was one of the first tracks to sync together a Roland TR-808 (with a reverb placed across the kick and snare and then hard gated) and a Roland TB-303 bassline, which years later would become one of the predominant features of the whole acid techno sound.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

S.o.t.D. - Rapper’s Delight – Sugar Hill Gang

Rapper’s Delight – Sugar Hill Gang

Crazy I haven’t posted this classic. And where the hell did rap go so terribly astray from stuff this fun?

I was always under the impression that one of my favourite musical crews ever (Doug Wimbish, Skip McDonald and Keith LeBlanc - aka Tackhead, aka the dudes who played on countless On-U-Sound records) were the musicians on this. It was actually a group called Positive Force. They did however play on “Apache” by the Sugar Hill Gang. (What I never knew is that they also did the music for “The Message” by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, “White Lines” by Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel, “New York, New York” by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five.)

Bibliophilia: The Shock of the Old: Technology and Global History Since 1900 – David Edgerton

The Shock of the Old: Technology and Global History Since 1900 – David Edgerton

Interesting, alternate look at the history of technology, which is often dominated by paeans to the latest and greatest gee-whiz technology. This book argues that it is often the relatively mundane technologies have the largest and longest impact. Actual manufacture, implementation and maintenance, rather than breathless announcements of new innovations are what count. Many things we use are very old, and many things that are invented are never actually used. Not many people regard corrugated iron as a very exciting technology, but in terms of how long it has been used, and how much has been sold all over the world, it is very important. For all the promises of jet-packs and flying cars, bicycles are still going strong, 200 years later, constantly updated and improved, and in use globally. Many people the world over are employed in maintaining and improving older technologies, but their contribution to the greater good are overlooked in the headlong rush to praise the newest invention.

It certainly provokes thought, even if I thought it was a little plodding and scattered in places. And his anti-American slant was tedious and predictable.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

S.o.t.D. - The Whistle Song – Frankie Knuckles

The Whistle Song – Frankie Knuckles

Damn. Just heard that this legend of house music has passed away. Fortunate to have had the chance to see him twice back in the day. 

Bibliophilia: How To Wrap Five Eggs - Traditional Japanese Packaging – Hideyuki Oka

How To Wrap Five Eggs - Traditional Japanese Packaging – Hideyuki Oka

Something I’ve always found fascinating and admirable about Japan is their painstaking attention to detail. I don’t think there is anything, any craft or art, they do in half measures.

Packaging was no exception.

First published in 1965 (with an English version 2 years later), Japanese graphic artist Hideyuki Oka, set out to chronicle older, and by that point disappearing, forms of packaging foodstuffs.

The items encased range from sake to miso to sushi to confectionaries and...eggs. Many of these would have been the efforts of simple merchants. Both to protect and transport the goods they sold, but also to give it a distinct visual presence. Very early, not quite corporate branding – market stall branding maybe. And the material used was often bamboo, rice straw, hemp twine, paper, and leaves. Beautiful examples of using the natural resources available. But, cloth and also more sophisticated pottery, baskets, and wooden boxes were used.

Bamboo is split to form the sticks that candies unique to Sendai are stuck on to. The holder is also bamboo.
Box made of Paulownia wood, with a polished bamboo knob, containing candies from Nagoya.
Oh come on! Sugarcoated beans from Mamemasa confectionery in Kyoto arranged in tiers in a diagonally cut cardboard box pasted over with decorative printed paper.
A wooden box containing a 15 inch sponge cake called kasutera. But check out that ribbon.
Dried flying fish from Miyagi Prefecture in northern Honshu. Strung together with straw, this allowed them to both dry and be conveniently stored, and then used as needed.

​Anyone with an interest in packaging, basketry, box making, ceramics and pottery, Japanese arts and crafts, inventive uses of natural resources, and anyone with a sense of wonder, will find this book very appealing.

If I have a criticism of the book it’s that I wish the photos were in colour (but given that the photos date back more than fifty years, maybe not so surprising) and also that the descriptions were on the same page, rather than grouped together at the back. But in all, minor quibbles. Oh and there is no description of how to wrap five eggs. No how to of any kind. But again, many of the items photographed were by that time already artifacts of a by gone age. Oka was a chronicler of a historical practice, not an expert practitioner of these crafts.

(I originally enjoyed this book when I found it more than 25 years ago in the library of the city I grew up in. The memory of it had faded in that time and I was thrilled to find it again in the library of the city I now live in.)

If you were traveling by train in Japan, you could purchase tea at a train station, and this is how it would be served. The lid serves as a cup.

Now if someone could make something like this, about a liter in size, with a larger screw off cup on the top, and a nestled pot on the bottom, in aluminum, stainless steel or titanium, I would buy one and die a happy man.