Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My Favourite Book and Your Ex-Lover is Dead - by Stars

OK, two steps forward and one step back. You might have noticed the posts have slowed to a trickle... so none of the great and expansive blogs I have planned in my head have made it out of the keyboard in my mind as yet. I am hoping that I will be able to grab an evening this week and at least provide a more decent explanation...

In the meantime, I have been feasting on a lot of music lately. One band I had not heard of until recently is called Stars.  There are couple of their tunes I which have caught my ear which I shall blog about today.
StarsCover of Stars

According to Wiki

Stars is an indie pop band from Canada. Originally formed in Toronto by vocalist Torquil Campbell and keyboardist Chris Seligman, the band relocated to New York City and then subsequently to Montréal.
All members of the band are also members of the indie band Broken Social Scene, with whom they once shared a record label, Arts & Crafts. Campbell is an actor who has appeared on the television shows Sex and the City and Law & Order. Millan has released two solo albums, Honey from the Tombs in 2006 and Masters of the Burial in 2009.
 The band has a very soft, electronic-pop sound, which is light, breezy and cheerful despite the lyrical themes.   You can find out more and listen to all their tunes at the Stars official website.

Your Ex-Lover Is Dead

God that was strange to see you again
Introduced by a friend of a friend
Smiled and said 'yes I think we've met before'
In that instant it started to pour,
Captured a taxi despite all the rain
We drove in silence across Pont Champlain
And all of the time you thought I was sad
I was trying to remember your name...

This scar is a fleck on my porcelain skin
Tried to reach deep but you couldn't get in
Now you're outside me
You see all the beauty
Repent all your sin

It's nothing but time and a face that you lose
I chose to feel it and you couldn't choose
I'll write you a postcard
I'll send you the news
From a house down the road from real love...

Live through this, and you won't look back...
Live through this, and you won't look back...
Live through this, and you won't look back...

There's one thing I want to say, so I'll be brave
You were what I wanted
I gave what I gave
I'm not sorry I met you
I'm not sorry it's over
I'm not sorry there's nothing to save

I'm not sorry there's nothing to save...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Saturday Work and Play - Robert Plant's Band of Joy

I have to apologize,  I really wanted to get my act together and put in some time writing this week - but it was just not to be.  I am pretty sure I won't get enough time to finish part 2 of the 3 part blog I promised you today.  *sigh*  So I have to ask for your indulgence to deliver it next week .   Instead, I give you this little tid bit.

Truth is I worked diligently on must do things all through last Sunday and was at the office 12 hours each day of the week. I have some pressing things to get done on my personal To Do List, which were  neglected in this last month due to all the other goings on.  This week the drop dead date arrives for getting them done and I cannot delay further.  I have had possession of both my old and new condos since November but as of Thursday (God willing nothing prevents the sale from closing) the sale of the other condo will close.

At this point I still have stuff there which needs to get moved over to my locker in my new building and to my son's house and the place needs a good clean.  Those jobs together with a bunch of other things which are must do's, I just won't have time for anything except chores and office work brought home.  Well, except for the one other thing which will keep me busy tonight. However, this evenings plans are to be pure joy... Band of Joy that is.

Tonight Robert Plant is performing with his Band of Joy at Toronto's Sony Centre for the Performing Arts.  Ian, one of my Collingwood crowd  friends, was kind enough to think of me when he had an extra ticket come available and now I will be happily joining he and his friends for dinner and the concert.  So tonight I will be enjoying the good music and vibes of this fabulous band.

Checking up on Internet for reviews of the Robert Plant & the Band of Joy - 2011 Tour  this morning has me excited and in the mood.  His most recent concert at Ann Arbor Michigan was very well received and I expect tonight to be no different.

From the Robert Plant Web site:

.. it was a return to Plant’s pre-Led Zeppelin roots, finding the still-golden-haired singer exploring deep American blues, Appalachian gospel and British folk music, with a little low-fi indie rock thrown in amid a handful of Zep classics.

I continue to be amazed at what I see on the net. The concert was last night and the review posted at AnnArbor.com was posted last night at 11:48 PM. When I looked at the Robert Plant site this morning a the review was reproduced there with a back link to the full review. Wow, news travels quickly in this 2.0 world.

 I have a rather long to do list in hand and as I rush out to face the day, I just have time to get this quick blog out to you.  I will leave you with a bit more info on Robert Plant's latest project and taste of the music I expect to be grooving and moving to this evening.  If you like Robert Plant and haven't read my blog on his work with Alison Krause go here to catch up.

 There were several  You Tube videos recorded live from his 2011 Tour, but none of good enough quality to share.  Instead, I found a couple of "official" videos, one which is an interview with Robert Plant who is talking about this stage of his career and his work with Band of Joy.  It was recorded 5 months ago.  It provides great insight from Robert on the motivation for this stage of his music and some chat about individual songs and how he approached the arrangements and putting together the band.  An interesting video for a behind the scenes and as background to his Band of Joy tour.

As a side comment: reading this background info will make my concert experience even more enjoyable - another example to reading as an important adjunct to the living of life and the discussion prompted in my blog of the other week on Neruda's poem "Ode to the Book".

I also found a recent CBC Radio/Video interview from Q TV.  Gian Gomeshi, the host, is an excellent interviewer.   He really gets to Robert Plant - the person - unlike the first video  which is really a promo for the Band of Joy Tours.   A good listen if you want to hear Robert talk informally about his evolving musical sound as well as learn a few things about Robert himself.  Like how he "doesn't get his powder wet".  You will need to watch the video to understand this comment. :-p

OK, for those not so interested in listening to old rockers talking about their music but rather just want to see a performance and listen to the music, here is a montage of songs from the opening night of the 2010 Band of Joy Tour at Memphis.

Thanks to FaceBook postings, the following free download is making the rounds and I am happy to retweet so that others can get a free download of this song from their new album.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

An Exceedingly Lazy Saturday, My Fortress of Solitude and Ideas

I can't believe how fast the day zipped by. I have not had such a do nothing day in a very long time. I am back to my frantic pace at work these days and at the end of the week I absolutely need a slow day to recharge. So I am not going to beat myself up about it.

I spent the day alternating periods of hours listening to music, catching up on my RRSP portfolio tracking and re-jigging my blog pages with short bursts of energy sufficient to get a few small jobs done around the house. I am in a thoughtful mood today and I've found that on weekends when I am in a mood such as this there is only one way to deal with it - go with the flow.

If I just meander through the day and let my brain loose to think about what ever it wants at some point I exit my thoughtful mood and can easily make quick strides on some important decisions or some mentally challenging effort I have to get going on. This is in absolute contrast with my Monday to Friday work day rigour - not one moment when I am allowed to stop thinking carefully about what must be done and what is most important to do next.   My new place is fast becoming a very  comfortable refuge and I am starting to think of it as my "Fortress of Solitude".
Just as Superman needs to retreat to his Fortress of Solitude, we all need an equivalent to go to recharge and to be alone with our thoughts.  These days my Collingwood Shangri-La is not available for that purpose as it has a family of skiers have taken up residence.      My new place is fast becoming my comfortable refuge, my Fortress of solitude.
Superman brought his special friends to his Fortress and of course I will too.  I have family and good friends who will visit and so it will not always be a place of solitude.  

With that, let me show you a few pics of my Fortress of Solitude.  I am trying to figure out where my art work should go and the accent colours I will need for the area rug I am shopping for.  Also needing thought is the type  and colour for window coverings and I need to shop for a dining room table and perhaps small china hutch.  Lots to do yet to feather my nest er, rather to equip my Fortress.  LOL

This living room is much larger than I had expected it to be.

My new combination fireplace/TV Stand/Media shelf.  Eric says I need a larger TV.

I love my kitchen.

The ugly part is the billboard view (I did zoom for these two photos but not much).  However in a year this will be replaced by the Condo now being built beside my building.

I get to view a couple of  big Coors beer cans.

And now for Something Completely Different

While letting my mind meander in my Fortress of Solitude today, I decided to start a blog series which will wind along a theme.  It touches upon themes of innovative ideas, visual art, animation, music and literature, but is a theme by association only.  At risk of your imagination seeing more into this than a simple 3 part blog,  will will let it unwind in its own way and at its own pace, so I won't say more but will launch immediately into part 1.

Where do new ideas and innovation come from?

Steven Johnson's latest book is titled "Where good ideas come from: The natural history of innovation" explores the phenomenon of inspiration.  In the You Tube Animate Video and the BBC interview and report included above, he makes the point that for the most part innovation is the result of slow germination of collaborate effort, of which the web stands out as a prime example.  He comments,
" Just the speed with which it's transformed itself over the last 15 years is just amazing.
"And so much of that is because it's wonderfully set up for other people to build on top of other people's ideas. In many cases without asking for permission.

I have to say that I have had more ideas and innovative thought since the Internet became a tool and an information source and I have seen how collaboration in the workplace always wins out in the longer term over the single genius who works alone.  But I would add, you also need another factor to be present.  Your mind has to have time to wander.  Innovative ideas come when you aren't focusing on the problem at hand.

The Author's advice to those wishing to find the creative spark needed for their work?
"Go for a walk; cultivate hunches; write everything down; but keep your folders messy; embrace serendipity; make generative mistakes; take on multiple hobbies, frequent coffee houses and other liquid networks; follow the links; let others build on your ideas; borrow, recycle, reinvent." 

I like his idea about "liquid networks".  LOL   I think his book might be an interesting read, but I must hold off looking for his it until I reduce the size of my "To Read" book pile.

To read the whole BBC report click here.

Stay tuned to next Saturday when I will post part II of this series.  In the meantime, come back tomorrow if you can and I will have my other idea out of the cooker.  :)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Poetry Tuesday: Pablo Neruda - Ode to the Book

I have picked up my Neruda autobiography titled "Memoirs" again.  I read the first chapters and blogged about it last August and haven't gotten back to it since the summer!   Sad to say my "to read" pile of books is a very high stack!  I am hoping to have more time in the coming months to get back to the soul enriching pleasures of reading and music for some part of each week. Maybe even whilst soaking in my nice whirlpool bath!  One of the real treats in my new abode is having 2 bathrooms - the main bath which is semi-ensuite to the guest room/den which is equipped with a jaccuzi tub and the other ensuite to my bedroom which has a walk in glass enclosed shower.  Heaven!

It is appropriate that I mark my return to bookish ways and reading Neruda's Memoirs that I share with you his poem Ode to the Book.  It is good to be reminded that life is not lived in a book and life begins when you close your book and go out and experience what is around you.  Some things in life need to be experienced first hand as he points out in the line, " I learned about life from life itself"...  Neruda had such a way with words  - lines such as 
The whole of night
clings to its shores, by dawn
it wakes up singing
as if it had excited a guitar
express emotion with such imaginative phrases.  I can feel the joy of the dawn in his words.  Reading his Ode to the Book makes me feel happy
I will enjoy reading another chapter or two of his Memoirs before life calls me to close the book and go play - or probably more correctly - go to work.

Ode to the Book
by Pablo Neruda

When I close a book
I open life.
I hear
faltering cries
among harbours.
Copper ignots
slide down sand-pits
to Tocopilla.
Night time.
Among the islands
our ocean
throbs with fish,
touches the feet, the thighs,
the chalk ribs
of my country.
The whole of night
clings to its shores, by dawn
it wakes up singing
as if it had excited a guitar.

The ocean's surge is calling.
The wind
calls me
and Rodriguez calls,
and Jose Antonio--
I got a telegram
from the "Mine" Union
and the one I love
(whose name I won't let out)
expects me in Bucalemu.

No book has been able
to wrap me in paper,
to fill me up
with typography,
with heavenly imprints
or was ever able
to bind my eyes,
I come out of books to people orchards
with the hoarse family of my song,
to work the burning metals
or to eat smoked beef
by mountain firesides.
I love adventurous
books of forest or snow,
depth or sky
but hate
the spider book
in which thought
has laid poisonous wires
to trap the juvenile
and circling fly.
Book, let me go.
I won't go clothed
in volumes,
I don't come out
of collected works,
my poems
have not eaten poems--
they devour
exciting happenings,
feed on rough weather,
and dig their food
out of earth and men.
I'm on my way
with dust in my shoes
free of mythology:
send books back to their shelves,
I'm going down into the streets.
I learned about life
from life itself,
love I learned in a single kiss
and could teach no one anything
except that I have lived
with something in common among men,
when fighting with them,
when saying all their say in my song.

Translated by Nathaniel Tarn

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Until its Time to Go and some Poetry

There has been a bit more Elvis music getting air play this week given that it was Elvis's birthday.  Browsing the net, I found that there is all sorts of stuff happening at Graceland at the Annual Evis Birthday Party, if you are a real Elvis devotee and want to make the trek.  I think I will wait for my annual dose of Elvis at the annual Collingwood Elvis Festival this summer.

The song "Until Its time to go" caught my ear and I recalled that a young Buffy Sainte-Marie had originally composed and recorded it in the 60s.  It is a very pretty and romantic song.  The lyrics resonate for me.

According to Wiki: "Until It's Time for You to Go" is a song from the 1965 album Many a Mile by Canadian First Nations singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie. It was never released by her as a single, but was a UK Top 20 hit for British group The Four Pennies in 1965, and for Elvis Presley in 1972,[1] and a US Hot 100 single for Neil Diamond in 1970.

The lyrics concern an ordinary man and woman who love each other, but cannot stay together because they come from different worlds. The singer asks her (or his) lover: "Don't ask why/Don't ask how/Don't ask forever/Love me now." According to Sainte-Marie, the song "popped into my head while I was falling in love with someone I knew couldn't stay with me.

There is no doubt that The King adds a special something to the song.    I could listen to it every day.

(words & music by Buffy Sainte-Marie)
You're not a dream,
You're not an angel,
You're a woman,
I'm not a king,
I'm just a man,
Take my hand,
We'll make a space,
In this life that we planned,
And here we'll stay,
Until it's time for you to go.

Yes, we're diff'rent, worlds apart,
We're not the same,
We laughed and played,
At the start, like in a game,
You could have stayed,
Outside my heart,
But in you came,
And here you'll stay,
Until it's time for you to go.

Don't ask why,
Don't ask how,
Don't ask forever,
Love me, love me,
Love me, love me now.

This love of mine,
Had no beginning,
It has no end,
I was an oak,
Now I'm a willow,
Now I can bend,
And tho' I'll never,
In my life see you again,
And still I'll stay,
Until it's time for you to go.

Don't ask why,
Don't ask how,
Don't ask forever,
Love me, love me,
Love me, love me now.

This love of mine,
Had no beginning,
It has no end,
I was an oak,
Now I'm a willow,
And I can bend,
And tho' I'll never,
In my life see you again,
Here I'll stay,
Until it's time for you to go,
Yes I'll stay,
Until it's time for you to go.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Greetings 2011

The scene this morning looking out my window - a light dusting of snow covers the ground and is in the air.

I woke up this morning feeling very happy.  No reason particularly except that I am starting fresh - a new year so maybe I am leaving last year's challenges behind,  a new condo to settle into which pleases me a lot and more importantly, I am settling back into a familiar and comforting routine. This week was back to work and getting back into the groove.  Busy yes, but also comforting.  The world moves on.

I woke this morning to the sounds of Molly Johnson's voice on CBC Radio 2 Morning Show and Elvis singing his song "Are you lonely tonight".  This is my Saturday morning routine at its best.  A lazy few hours in bed with a coffee listening to music and writing a blog.

Molly reminds me that it is Elvis' 76th Birthday today!   I love the lyrics to that song and hearing Elvis singing reminded me of some good times with the people and places that I think of when I hear Elvis and particularly that song.  It also reminded me that I have blogged about "Are You Lonesome Tonight" - in my last year's "Happy Birthday Elvis" blog.

This is my first blog of 2011 and I hope the start of a more regular routine of blogging as I get back to basics.  A lot has happened in this last year and I do have cause to be grateful and happy.
I hosted a family Thanksgiving Dinner this year, just before my Father fell ill.
  • I managed through a critical period in my Dad's terminal illness.   It might be that we have him with us for maybe only  another year or two, but whatever happens at least he didn't die last November, as we feared.  He is responding to the treatments and although they leave him feeling ill and tired we have faith that he is going to manage for a while.
My Dad will be 80 on January 26th

  • I have acquired a new role "Parent to my Parents" - another challenge which I am managing.  I had not realized how much my Mom's memory was failing and how much they both needed me until Dad fell ill.   Sadly, both parents need me to help them deal with organizing life's little things, however that has given me an opportunity to spend more time with them and get to know them much better. 
I get my sense of humour from my Mom

  • We had not been particularly close over the years - partly because they have gone south from Oct through April every year for at least the last 25 years and partly because our lives and interests are so vastly different. It is good that I have this opportunity to give back to them what they gave to me in my growing up years.
Christmas Dinner 2010

  • My youngest daughter, Tegan has reached the turning point I had been waiting for and I am so proud to say is on track now to start University next fall. I am holding my breath to see what wonderful things she gets up to.  Good thing that she will be going to University here in the city so she can still keep close with her long time BF who is a very nice young man. 
Tegan and Lilly (aka Laura)

  • My son Eric has returned to us from Phoenix AZ and I have been so happy to get some quality time with him and so glad to see that he has made his life transition without too much difficulty.  It is funny how each of my children has inherited a different piece of me.  Eric has inherited my writer's bent (as well as my soft heart) and has now gotten involved with producing a syndicated blog and podcast called Comma Error (billed as Toronto's geekiest blog and podcast). He is one of the co-hosts and a contributor.  The blog is mainly gaming reviews and as they put it, geekish things.  I was so pleased when Eric left a message on my Facebook that he had booked two  tickets to go see Alejandra Ribera (who I have blogged about many times) at Hugh's Room on Feb 5th - "and they are awesome seats!".  I get choked up when I think of the closeness he and I have been able to recapture in this last year.
Eric and I celebrate our birthdays at the Brazilian BBQ Copa Cabana

  • My daughter Lilly had a health crisis this year which was cause for concern, but we are confident that it is behind us and all will be just fine.  I am so happy that she is happily planning to  move in with her young man, MYB  (note that this is not my abbreviation but how she refers to him in print).   I wonder if he is going to be the one who manages to keep her heart. I hope so. 
  • My youngest son Ryan continues to take deep gulps of life with his long time girlfriend.  As much as I am impatient for him to take a more serious view about cultivating the habits which will allow him to enjoy financial independence, I celebrate his joie de vivre.  
Ryan and Brooke

  • Jeff continues to do well in his career and has allowed me to enjoy vicariously  his travels (this year Africa) which has also fuelled my desire to begin my own travels.  He too has inherited my writer's bent and is part of the consortium of authors producing The Scotch Blog.  It has garnered a following sufficient that they were given press passes to Whiskey Live this last fall.  The lads even have distillers inviting them to scotch tastings and sending them bottles of single malt under promotion in hopes that Scotch Blog will feature it.   Jeff has also moved forward this year in area of romance and has now a sweet  young thing for company who has my seal of approval.  I remind myself that I have always liked the girls (and now women) that Jeff brought home.  Jeff continues to make things move in the right direction for himself by himself.  He for sure has inherited my independence.
Erica and Jeff

  • I landed a fabulous new contract that is allowing me to grow career wise and also earn more money.  My new boss was wonderfully understanding with the time off work I needed when my Dad was hospitalized.  The job is just the right amount of challenge for me - on the edge of too much challenge, mentally tiring and exercising my brain a lot but this is  a good thing no doubt. 
No more sunrise views from Battery Park

  • I have sold my Battery Park condo, moved into my new Liberty Towers condo and also bought another in the to be built Liberty Place Condo Building by 2016.  I am very happy in my new digs and look forward to feathering my nest over the year to come.
No more sunset views reflecting from my east view either :(
My new view looking directly west into the sunset
  • My retirement fund gained 20% in value last year and is now providing me dividends of 9% per annum and well on its way to generating sufficient income to finance some extended travel in a year or two.  Financially, things are just where they need to be.
  • I bought my dream car, a 2007 VW EOS hard top convertible.  I LOVE MY CAR!
  • My Collingwood Shangri-La is continuing to bring me solace and serve well to recharge my soul.  I have been able to rent it during ski season to the same family for the third year running and so owning it is not so draining on finances.  I bought a kayak and now enjoy jaunts out into Georgian Bay while I get a bit of exercise.  I am also developing a great circle of friends up there and was able to go on a Manitoulin Island camping weekend to the  Pow Wow with a GF.
Kayaking on Georgian Bay

  • I went from being in love to remembering love, as I have been pretty much a singlet for the whole year.  That behind me, I have renewed faith that my Prince Charming will come by and swoop me up onto his horse.  If not, I have planned lots of adventures for the coming year and have plenty of friends to keep me busy.  I am setting myself up for some extensive travel on my own - maybe Prince Charming is waiting for me in a foreign country.
In the time it has taken me to write this blog it has become quite snowy.  Suits my mood today. Let it Snow!

    I will close with a quote from Elvis which will explain why one of my resolutions for the coming year is to find more time to get out to my Liberty Bistro Tues/Wed evenings.  If anything, they were the other casualty of my busy fall (aside from my blogs) and I am sad to say I can't remember the last time I had a night of music at the bistro.  That has got to change!

    Happy 2011 New Year to my friends in the Blogsphere - Hope it is a great year for all of us!

    “When I was a child, ladies and gentlemen, I was a dreamer. I read comic books and I was the hero of the comic book. I saw movies and I was the hero in the movie. So every dream I ever dreamed has come true a hundred times...I learned very early in life that: ‘Without a song, the day would never end; without a song, a man ain’t got a friend; without a song, the road would never bend - without a song.' So I keep singing a song. Goodnight. Thank you.”
    -From his acceptance speech for the 1970 Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Nation Award. Given at a ceremony on January 16, 1971. (Elvis quotes from copyrighted material with lines from the song “Without a Song”.)
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