Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Stupid Conversations -- I Haz Dem

Quotation du jour:  Spike Milligan -- Money can't buy friends but you can get a better class of enemy.

Oh, i do know some idiots.

At my work, there's a man i've nicknamed "Mr 30%" (because that's the amount of effort he puts into his work). This man -- an annoying person all around, really -- claims to be fluent in German, but obviously isn't: he occasionally greets me by saying guten tagen (instead of guten tag) for "good day" (and in actual fact, most Germans would say moin, moin).   (And, i hasten to add, i'm not fluent in German -- i know as much of the language as any well-educated English person, but certainly not enough to carry on a conversation:  that thing about moin, moin comes to me from my friend Ela, who lives near Hamburg).

Anyway, 30% was blathering about this country's debt crisis recently and i mentioned something about how (German Chancellor) Angela Merkel (oh, look, there's there's her picture)

was trying to deal with Europe's worsening debt crisis.  I pronounced her name as it is pronounced, with a hard "g" (as in "angular").  He tried to correct me, saying it was pronounced with a soft "g", as in "angelic."

Well, pedant that i am, i said "D'oh! Wrong again!"  I don't recall exactly the conversation that ensued  but i said something along the lines of how the letter g is always voiced hard in the German language and he (fluent in German remember) rebutted that, if that were the case, the word "German" wouldn't have a soft g and that i must be some kind of ignoramus.  And then i said something like "Our word Germany comes from the Latin Germanium, with a soft g; the Germans call their country 'Deutschland'."

What a gobshite he is.  No wonder i'm depressed, dealing with people like this, six days a week.  Es ist schade.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Alive And Depressed And Living In Canada

Quotation of the day: Bob Dylan -- For the loser now / Will be later to win / For the times they are a-changin'

 Hello to my regular reader!

I was at the pub this afternoon after work, and Kristina (one of my fave bartenders there) said something to me i thought very thought-provoking.

She said that, for those of us who live in Canada, the most depressing time of the year is the third week of January.  The weather is frightful (and that photo there on the left is the view from my front window) and we're all suffering from S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder) i.e., miserable due to meteorological conditions.  Secondly, it's depressing because the credit card bills for Christmas have arrived and all you can say is "AAAAAAARGGH!" (I'm paraphrasing.)

Thirdly, it's because you realise that you haven't managed to keep any (not a single one) of your New Year's Resolutions. 

Well, i'm not depressed about any of this. I didn't make any New Year's Resolutions, for one thing (i know myself too well), and i didn't spend any money that i didn't have, at Christmas.  Thirdly, after a relatively mild winter up until recently, i find myself rather relieved to find that the appropriate weather has finally arrived.

I'm depressed about my job, but that's an entirely different tale, and one i won't go into here.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Spriggsblog Goes To The Book Shop

Quotation Of The Day: Steve Jobs -- Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.

And so, on Saturday, i needed something to read and was wandering aimlessly around a local book shop and came across this:
Now, i've never used a Mac in my life, but i'm fascinated by the early days of computers and he seemed like an interesting dude (and besides, it was on sale) and i have to say, "woot!"

I'm only up to page 100, but it's a fascinating and compelling read.

Mr Jobs wasn't a brilliant engineer -- and he could sometimes be a very abrasive person.  But it was his partner Steve Wozniak -- who was a brilliant engineer -- who invented the personal computer.  I didn't know that.  I supposed that it was Bill Gates, or someone at Microsoft.  Wrong again!

Mr Jobs was, however, brilliant at marketing.  The alliance of Jobs & Wozniak appears to have been one of those brilliant synergistic partnerships that only arise once in a decade, like Lennon & McCartney or, um, Graham Linehan & Arthur Matthews.

The book is highly recommended.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Now THIS Is What I Call Music!

Rory Gallagher -- the best blues-rock guitarist of all time, ever.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Spriggsblog Goes To The Book Shop

Quotation of the day: Judy Collins -- My father always promised us / that we would live in France / and we'd go boating on the Seine / and i would learn to dance

I have just finished reading Judy Collins' memoirs, "Sweet Judy Blue Eyes: My Life In Music."

Now, i'm well aware that i'm a dinosaur when it comes to music; my regular reader may not know who Judy Collins is.

She was a folk singer whose heyday was in the sixties and she made what i think are three of the greatest American folk music albums of all time: "Judy Collins 5th Album," "In My Life," and "Wildflowers."

She was also very beautiful: those amazing amethyst eyes.  Stephen Stills wrote "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" (recorded by Crosby, Stills & Nash) about her.

Her memoirs are interesting enough.  It was an enjoyable read, but strangely unsatisfying.

 For one thing, although she's a good writer, there's no magic to her prose.  It's easy to read but not compelling (if, in fact, she actually wrote it herself).  And it's full of factual errors:  Jacques Brel was not French (he was Belgian), The Byrds first hit single was not "Turn! Turn! Turn!" (it was "Mr Tambourine Man').

She's very forthright about her alcoholism and all of her lovers (male and female; she preferred men).  But the book virtually ends in the early 80's, which is when she ultimately kicked the booze and which is also when her music became terribly schmaltzy (co-inky-dink?) and i really rather lost interest in her work.  The years since then are skipped through in about twenty pages.  I would have been interested.

She performed here in Stratford last year.  I didn't go, i found out about the concert too late, which is a shame, i would have loved to have seen her, just for the sake of the music she once excelled at -- and she is an icon, after all!  I checked her website (www.judycollins.com) and no repeat Stratford performances are scheduled.  Well, she's seventy years old now, i suppose i can allow her a less grueling tour schedule.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Hill Street Blues

Quotation of the day: Rick Kuba (attrib.) -- The Internet is television for people who like to read.

I feel old.

One of my favourite television series from the 80's was "Hill Street Blues."  It really did revolutionize television.  It may seem a bit lame now, but it was the first TV cop show that embraced the gritty reality of life in the urban wasteland, where the cops didn't all have perfect hair and had foibles and weaknesses instead.

I've been watching it a lot lately, and i loved all of the cast, i became emotionally involved in all of their lives (like, perhaps, my mum did with the cast of "Coronation Street")  (and "HSB" was soap opera too, no mistake, with its recurring characters and overlapping episodes and continuing stories). I can rarely watch an episode without being on the verge of tears over something (wuss that i am).

But i mentioned the program to Josh, the bartender at my pub, a few weeks ago and ... he'd never heard of it.

Oh, i do feel old....

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Album Of The Year, 2011

Quotation Of The Day: Ian Anderson -- Too old to rock 'n' roll, too young to die

There's really no question.

I bought some really good CDs this year. Honourable mentions go to many: "Chickenfoot III," Black Country Communion's "2," Florence + The Machine's "Ceremonials," "New Blood" by Peter Gabriel, "PNO GTR VOX" by Peter Hammill, "So Beautiful Or So What" by Paul Simon, "Endgame" by Rise Against, and "A Grounding In Numbers" by Van der Graaf Generator are all great albums (most of them by a bunch of old farts).

The runner-up is (drum roll)....

A sublime meditation on the subject of winter.

But the winner is:

Seether was a Major Musical Discovery for me in 2011. "Holding Onto Strings Better Left To Fray" (daft title!) is a CD without a crap track on it (and how rare are those these days!).  I'd been vaguely aware of the band ere now, but am now investigating their entire back catalogue, and have loved everything i've found.

This is a joyful noise in what is apparently called the "post-grunge" genre.  Well, what do i know about genres, i don't grasp them very well.  I just love Seether to pieces, i want to have its babies :o)

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Year-End Wrap-Up (Almost Done)

Quotation of the day: J.R.R. Tolkein -- In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.

OK, today's post will be about songs.  Individual songs that rocked my world this year, and there were many.

I loved, in no particular order:

  • "Unkind' By Sloan
  • "Roads Ahead" by Big Sugar
  • "Cowboy Song" by Seether
  • "I Don't Know" by The Sheepdogs
  • "Whistle Blower" by The Arkells
  • "These Days" by Foo Fighters
But, song of the year, that's a toughie, and i am torn.

Torn between two possibles, and i'm  having an attack of the vapours, trying to choose.

OK, well, i think that, without question, the most entertaining song of the year was "Tonight" by Seether and you can view the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCzdecygpmg&ob=av2e

But i think that the most important song of 2011 was Rise Against's "Make It Stop (September's Children)" and it's here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XP4clbHc4Xg&ob=av2e

It's (of all things) a protest song.  It's also a very angry song.  It deals with the subject of high school bullying, and as i have a very dear friend whose son was the subject of some torment by his classmates recently, i know how shattering this can be.

So Rise Against gets the nod.