Monday, August 31, 2009

Music, Music

Minor Hope - Gypsophilia. These guys are a contemporary band from Nova Scotia. They're a pretty versatile bunch, and from the eMusic previews, you can't really be certain from one album to the next whether you'll like them. But this album is charming, and sometimes reminds me of Django Reinhardt.

Ethiopiques Vol. 4 - featuring Mulatu Astatqe. I found this one just browsing the eMusic 'stacks' and following comment threads. The sub-caption for this album is "ethio jazz & musique instrumentale 1969-1974". The "ethio" is for Ethiopia, Astatqe's native land. Very nice music, both for background while programming, and for attentive listening.

Holst's The Planets - Royal Philharmonic Orchestra w/Andre Previn. I don't suppose that this needs any introduction. I just had a hankering for 'Mars' and got the whole 'Holst' of planets.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Italy's Answer(s) to the <A HREF="">Mütter Museum</a>

Thanks to Boing Boing, I have two new anatomy-related museums to visit, should I ever make it to Italy. Recall that practically a decade ago, Jean, Renee and I found ourselves in Philadelphia for one of the Moyer Family Reunions. As I like to strike out on my own and find something unique on these trips, I was quite pleased to find the Mütter Museum. Jean and I went and spent a few hours prowling around the building.

So I was surprised and happy to find that Italy has two museums with their own unique vision on the human medical condition. I'm noting them here for that eventual trek 'in Italia'.

Museo Storico Nazionale dell'Arte Sanitaria, the National Health Museum, located in Rome.

La Specola Museum of Natural History of the University of Florence

Monday, August 24, 2009

Miles Davis Express

If I'm not careful Miles Davis albums will represent a significant fraction of my music library. A few days ago I grabbed Steamin' off of eMusic. Some say it is one of his better albums. I can't rank it up there with Kind of Blue, but it is very nice background music while coding.

Speaking of Kind of Blue, one of my more quirky acquisitions arrived over the bit pipe last week: Kind of Bloop, about which it's creative driver said:

What would the pioneers of jazz sound like on a Nintendo Entertainment System? Coltrane on a C-64? Mingus on Amiga? For years, I've wondered what "chiptune jazz" would sound like, but there are only a tiny handful of jazz covers ever made.

To satisfy my curiosity — and commemorate the 50th anniversary of Miles Davis's "Kind of Blue" — I've asked five brilliant chiptune musicians to collaborate and reinvent the entire album in the 8-bit sound.

I have enjoyed Kind of Blue for close to two years now, and have once or twice dipped into the chiptune world (for example, diplodocus ds10). So I sprang for a copy of Kind of Bloop and have been playing it in the background ever since. It's also good music to pick up pine cones by!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Takeshi Terauchi versus The Royal Fingers

A few years ago, Boing Boing pointed me at a band called Takeshi Terauchi and The Bunnys. They based their sound around a classic 'American Invasion' of Japan by The Ventures, one of the primary surf guitar groups in the history of music (Hawaii 5-0 ring any bells?). Terauchi managed to take that sound and make it his own, lacing the surf guitar with liberal oriental notes and a self-deprecating humor. I've listened to the album This is Terauchi Bushi dozens of times in the ensuing years.

Well, Boing Boing tried to do it again, this time pointing me at The Royal Fingers, another Eleki band. The Royal Fingers had one album, Wild Eleki Deluxe, and I've listened to it now a few times. Maybe it's just that I've listened to Terauchi so many times, but I doubt it. Bunnies are just so much more distinct and fun than The Royal Fingers, who sound like a generic knock-off band of The Ventures. I gave it a chance, but it's going permanently off-rotation.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Goodbye Trees

Twice in the last year (the last time fairly recently), we've had our household drainage back up into the laundry room. In each case, it's been due to root incursions on the outlet line. This time, we went further than roto-rooting the roots. We had our favored company come and run a camera up the line. They found not just roots, but the pipe buckled by a larger root.

After consulting with our plumber, the city and a tree company we've used in the past, we concluded that the trees in our front yard had to be removed. Their roots will still grow for up to two years, but we hope that there will be no further damage of the line, and that we may get away without having to dig up the yard and sidewalk to replace it.

These trees have been in our front yard since before we moved in, and have moderated the temperature and sheltered our house for all that time. I'm very sad that they are gone.

Benny Golson

Another eMusic jazz selection, not any given seminal album, but a best of collection, The Best of Benny Golson.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Jazz, Not Pornography

One of the nice things about eMusic is their 'curated' articles, introducing an artist, a label or a genre from the viewpoint of the curator's love affair with same. Towards the bottom of the front page is the 'fresh stuff' heading, Today's Buzz. It isn't refreshed daily, but frequently enough, and this evening, it was full of Criss Cross New Arrivals. Criss Cross is a Dutch label run nearly single-handedly by Gerry Teekens, and has promoted new jazz artists since 1980.

The Today's Buzz block included a link to The eMusic Dozen: Criss Cross, and after spending the last hour of my evening grazing through samples from this article, I settled on Consenting Adults, which despite the title, is not a pornographic film, but rather a nine-year old album by Mark Turner, Brad Mehldau and Peter Bernstein, channeling '60s jazz ala Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and McCoy Tyner.

I've only given it a brief listen, but I'm looking forward to putting it on repeat while I code tomorrow...

Saturday, August 1, 2009


Late July was the season for relatives. Jean flew home to meet her parents and her sister. On the other hand, my sister and her husband flew out from Michigan to pay me a visit. This is the first time I've seen them in 16 years. You can see the result in the banner photo or by visiting the small photo set on my Flickr account.

For so long as the banner photo is up, here's who's there. In the background is Ted, my sister's husband. Center frame is my sister, Brenda. To the right, in the foreground is of course Renee.

Black Books

I am certain I've raved here about The IT Crowd, Graham Linehan's paean to modern tech geeks. If you haven't seen it, give it a try. Some of the humor might be lost on you if you are not into computers, but mostly, it is the humor of the misfit, and should translate just fine.

Anyway, before this series, Graham Linehan wrote and directed another series, Black Books, and Jean and I watched it before she took her trip to Michigan last week. I only just now get to writing about it as I was myself wrapped up in life.

Black Books is about a misanthropic bookstore owner and his 'friend' Fran, who runs a new-age-y junk and trinket shop ("I do sell a lot of wank, don't I?") next door. Partway through the first episode I wasn't sure it was going to take off, but by the middle of that episode, I was laughing out loud. Find it, try it. It's quite fun.

Graham Collier

This album is actually three, Dark Blue Centre/Portraits/The Alternate Mosaics. It's not my usual cup of jazz, consisting not of Hard Bop, but more British Avante-garde jazz.

It's by turns introspective, intellectual, abstract and frenetic. It reminds me of an era of movies late in Frank Sinatra's film career. I'm really just grasping at straws here, but perhaps a specific movie or movies will come to me in time.

In any case, it is a welcome change of pace from my comfort zone.