my first painting… “manta ray, laser eyes : killing a building”

March 31, 2009 at 4:18 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

So I’ve finally made my first painting.  And I’m going to keep doing it.  I had a vision of this and I got together with some friends to have a painting night.  We were productive and we had a great time.

My first painting is called “manta ray, laser eyes : killing a building”.  I didn’t come up with the “killing a building” part but Dave did and it fits well.  Thanks Dave.

I don’t think it really needs any explanation.  The manta ray has his motives.  If you want to ask him, go ahead.  But be warned.

I really enjoyed painting with acrylics.   Now that I’ve got the stuff I want to try to do this at least every 2 weeks or so.   Will the ocean attack on land again?  We shall see…

manta ray, laser eyes : killing a building

"manta ray, laser eyes : killing a building"


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Top albums of 2008 (that I learned about during 2009)

March 6, 2009 at 6:45 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

As I mentioned in my previous top 10 list of 2008, I love end of year lists to help me expand and also filter through my experience of the limitless amount of music there is out there to enjoy.  I spent time reading a lot of lists.  I learned about a lot of records I never heard about during 2008 proper.  I started digging like a small child and got lost in the wrapping paper.

So now that the wrapping paper has cleared, I got out a pick axe and pried open the large box labeled “2008”.  I poked my head inside to see what all stuck with me going through those lists.

Once again, there are links wherever possible so you can click away and start listening to this stuff at the speed of thought.  Also, since this is about finding things through other people’s lists, where I can recall I have given credit to who introduced me to the music.


Portugal.  The Man – Censored Colors

Introduced by : Carmen

This record to me is a continuation in the tradition of well-crafted songs from The Beatles.  There are a few tracks on here which are so well crafted and I believe have a universal appeal that they sound to me like a modern version of “Hey Jude” (check out “And I”).  So even though there is a substrate of The Beatles going on here, there is a lot of complexity to the music.  There are elements which are angular, disjointed, and fractured which remind me of Mars Volta.  There is a lot of soul and expression in these songs and it’s hard not to sing along with John Gourley on these tracks.


Everest – Ghost Notes

Introduced by : Taylor

A great enjoyable collection of classic songs which will draw comparisons to bands like Wilco and Calexico.  There is a lot of alt-country essence here and it’s a great record to listen to while driving.  There are also some spacy exploration in the latter half of the record as well but it’s not out of place.  I could recommend this record and the Portugal The Man record mentioned above to nearly anyone I know.


High Places – High Places

Introduced by : Carmen

This record is a great little surprise.  It took a few ambient listens before it grabbed me and I really started paying attention.  It is a beautiful formula of the beautiful voice of Mary Pearson, sweet melodies and the tribal percussion which dance around her.  Given this formula, one might guess that it could be similar in sound to School of Seven Bells which I had on my top 10 list for 2008, but the end result is very different.  I’m curious to see if this one grabs people right off the bat or if it takes a few listens like it did for me.


Russian Circles – Station

Introduced by : Corinne

Immediately upon listening to this I had an image pop into my head.  I just spent the last 20 minutes trying to find the image and I can’t.  If anyone can send it my way, they get a high five.  The image is a drawing from Igor Stravinsky in which he drew 2D figures which represented the music of several composers. Included are Bach, Schoenberg and others.  The figure her drew for Richard Wagner consisted of spirals.  This record from Russian Circles creates the same image and feeling as I listen to it.  Their instrumental heavy guitar driven forms are like a gigantic whirlpool.  It makes me wonder if Wagner would enjoy it.


Diplo and Santogold – Top Ranking

Introduced by : Matt at work??? Can’t remember???

I listened to this a lot in 2008 but for some reason I didn’t include it in my other top 10 list.  This record is a fun experience.  It travels all over through the spaces of Reggae, Dub, Hip Hop, Baile Funk and more.  There are a lot of tracks here so felt like I needed to fold down the corners of the MP3s as a crude bookmark.  For a few beginning bookmarks, I recommend these tracks : “Creator”, “Get It Up”, and “Light’s Out”.  (what?  Panda Bear mixed in here?  it works…)


The Black Angels – Directions To See A Ghost

Introduced by : Taylor

Dark, brooding, and full of swagger.  This record instantly reminds me of Darker My Love, Jesus and Mary Chain, Brian Jonestown Massacre, and Velvet Underground all at once.  If you like any of these then go pick this up yesterday.  There are some incredible trips in this record which leave Earth’s atmosphere far behind.  My little roommate bunny Radar loves this record.  If it gets the approval of a selective and sometimes disapproving stoner bunny then it’s a pretty good pick.


Wow. WordPress seemed to censor this. It said "crunching..." for a bit and then the image never appeared. I threw it into MS-PAINT and then wordpress was happy. I guess it doesn't want me to post breasts???

Grails –  Doomsdayer’s Holiday

Introduced by : (thanks statistically-based recommendations!  you work!!!)

Way to go,  Another great record I did not know about without your help., I feel a bit embarrassed here.  You give me so much and I do little in return besides filling your servers with loads and loads of data about what I listen to.  Does that bother you?  Does it get heavy carrying all the music that I love?  I appreciate your hard work and especially your talent in recommending good music to me.  Thanks for giving me Grails.  This is great music.  Most people who read this probably will not like it, but I like it.  It’s loud and mean and, you know what I needed.  I will be sure to send you a Christmas ham this year.  I promise this time.

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No maps for these territories…

March 5, 2009 at 11:25 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

The past few months I feel that there has been a chain of words bouncing around in my head that sums up the state of my life.  They are words that were used in the title of a documentary about one of my favorite authors William Gibson.   The title is No Maps For These Territories.  (There is a  good post about it here)

Usually I enjoy the feeling of exploration.  Discovery.  The unknown.  Often I thrive on this.  But I don’t know what I wouldn’t give for a map at this point.  Normal compasses and navigation systems are useless here.  Lewis and Clark are looking at each other and shrugging.

In the absence of a map that I could use, let’s look at a cool one from one of my favorite sites, Strange Maps

Europa Polyglotta - Lets go ahead and call this a map of similarities and differences in European languages in 1730.

Europa Polyglotta -> Let's go ahead and call this a map of similarities and differences in European languages in 1730.

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Malajube – Labyrinthes

March 5, 2009 at 6:44 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )


Malajube - Labyrinthes. Great music continues to come out of Montreal. Vive la belle province!

Over the last several weeks, I have been obsessing more than a bit over the album  from Montreal artists Malajube.  Their 2006 album Trompe-l’oeil was my favorite album of the year so I’ve been looking forward to their new release Labyrinthes.

This record is not quite as accessible as Trompe-l’oeil but has longer song forms with complicated, twisting elements.  Several of the songs deal with religion.  The province of Quebec is about 83% Catholic and Malajube do not seem to be big fans of organized religion.  When I lived in Montreal I met countless people who were not happy to see a church on their frozen horizon that was built from the money and effort of “saints” who they felt were manipulated into increasing the size of the empire.  The song I’m going to share is bien a propos.

Statue of St. Ursula (Ursule en francais)

Statue of St. Ursula (Ursule en francais)

Julien Mineau is the main chanteur of the group and comes from Ste-Ursule in Quebec.  It is from this saint (Ursula in english language) that we get the name of the track I’m going to share.  I, along with Julien, find the fascination in Quebec (and much of the Catholic world) with the saints to be strange.  The first half of the song is structured melodically almost like a hymn or a recitation of a prayer.  Then the chorus tears itself loose into a strong melodic line which delivers home Julien’s message of saints and religion.

Cold, cold Ste-Ursule.  This is one reason Im glad I dont live in Quebec anymore.

Cold, cold Ste-Ursule. This is one reason I'm glad I don't live in Quebec anymore.

This track is in French, but don’t be afraid.  Listen to it first and then down below you can read my English translation.  I have wanted to do more translation in 2009 and even though this is small, is it something.  At least I put to practice a bit of the great material on translation from Hofstadter’s Le Ton Beau de Marot.

Here’s the opening track “Ursuline”.  If you like it, please go buy the record.

Or follow this link to save it (don’t right-click):

Ursuline (en francais) :

Donne-moi la force d’affronter
Le mal et les sorts
Mon squelette et ma chair
Ensevelis sous la terre
J’ai souffert, tu souffriras
Ne laisse pas tomber les bras
Je serai toujours avec toi

Aucun homme, ni aucune religion
Ne viendront sous ma robe x2
Pour brûler en enfer

Ursuline (english)

Give me the strength to confront
Evil and the fates
My skeleton and my flesh
Buried under the ground
I have suffered, you will suffer
Don’t allow your arms to drop
I will always be with you

No man, nor any religion
Will come under my clothes x2
To burn in hell

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Two of my favorite people are writing

March 5, 2009 at 6:59 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

Two of my favorite people on planet have started some great writing that I wanted to share.  Both are very funny.

The first is Carmen’s Battle Bunny site.  Carmen was diagnosed in July 2008 with leukemia.  Her writing does touch on what it means to be human and to come face to face with mortality.  At the same time, she is hilarious and she is full of life and curiosity about science, art and every cute living creature.  Her sense of humor is unlike any other and she shares some great music as well.   Read it here :

Battle Bunny

The second is my friend Taylor.  Taylor is currently unemployed and living in Denver, Colorado a city which has been hit very hard by our economic downturn.  In light of this, Taylor has begun working for a gentleman who repossesses cars and after I begged him he has started writing about his adventures.  If you look closely, you can see that he calls me on the electric telephone during one of his work exploits :

I Am Repo

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