Saturday, 22 August 2015

Kelsey's -- The End Of An Era

Quotation of the day: J.R.R. Tolkein ~ Orcs, and talking trees, and leagues of grass, and galloping riders, and glittering caves, and white towers and golden halls, and battles and tall ships sailing.

As my regular reader will know, my favourite pub in town for many years has been Kelsey's, and the primary reason i went there three or four times a week was that i liked the people who worked there (and in fact loved one of them) (although she was 'way too young for me) (or i was 'way too old for her, your choice).

The staff were great: new hires, upon realising that i was a regular, would make an effort to learn my name and it was almost like family. At one point i was Facebook friends with virtually everyone there.

And they were good to me, too: i would go in on my birthday and i wasn't allowed to spend any money. I would go in for lunch on Christmas Eve and i wasn't allowed to spend any money. One year, i went in on Thanksgiving Day. The Kitchen Manager had made turkey dinner with all the fixin's for the staff -- and they gave me a huge plate of it to take home. Then there was the occasional free pint (the way to a man's heart is through his liver, etc.) and the occasional complimentary dinner. They appreciated my business and they earned my loyalty in spades.

But, about a year ago, the place deteriorated drastically. They had an almost 100% staff turnover, very few of my friends were left, the atmosphere deteriorated terribly. One of my friends there told me that the thought of going to work gave her anxiety attacks. She's much happier where she is now (i saw her the other day). (I still love her.)

They can no longer keep staff -- no one wants to work there any more; it seems that every time i go in there now, there's someone working i've never seen before. And of all of these new people, i am impressed with ... none of them.

Today was the last straw. I went in, no one i knew was working, and the Muzak channel they had on was utter disco-pop rubbish. I mean, really. It was like having needles driven into my ears. It couldn't possibly appeal to anyone over the age of fifteen, why would a pub play such shit? I stayed for my usual two pints, trying to cover my ear holes as i used my phone to try to catch up on email and Facebook, but it was hopeless -- the noise in the background was too painful. And i said to the manager, "this music is fuck'n horrible." She tried to make a joke of it but didn't offer to change the channel so i downed my second pint very quickly and fled.

I may never go back.

The Muzak at Crabby Joe's -- and at Bentley's -- is much better.

Here, have a playlist:

Florence + The Machine -- How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
Van der Graaf Generator -- Merlin Atmos
Rory Gallagher - Irishman In New York
Various -- Essential Drive
Max Webster -- High Class In Borrowed Shoes
Fairport Convention -- The Wood And The Wire
Peter Hammill --This
Jefferson Airplane -- After Bathing At Baxter's
Pat Benatar -- Best Shots
Bruce Guthro -- Guthro
Colin James -- Take It From The Top
Jeff Beck -- Live +
Richard Thompson -- Still
Marillion -- The Thieving Magpie
Matchbox Twenty -- North
The Albion Band -- The Vice Of The People
Max Webster -- Mutiny Up My Sleeve
Ian Anderson -- TAAB2
Paula Cole -- 7
Stephane Grappelli -- Live At The Cambridge Folk Festival

Monday, 6 July 2015

Random Thoughts From A Random Idiot

Quotation Of The Day ~ Clive James: Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing.


No doubt because we had such a damp spring, the mosquitoes are out there in abundance these days. I slip out to the back of the restaurant for a smoke three or four times a day and am eaten alive. They must like the taste of my blood. All the alcohol that's in it, probably. So beware, visitors to Splatford: there are hordes of crazed, alcoholic mosquitoes out there.

Debit / Credit Card Anxiety.

Surely i'm not the only one. When i pay for something using my debit or credit card, have my accounts been hacked? Has all of my money been siphoned off to North Korea? I feel a definite sense of relief when i see "Approved." Every single time.

KSHE95, The Rock Of St Louis.

This is the radio station that kickstarted my interest in / fascination with St Louis when i first started listening to it (online, obviously) nearly three years ago. Not only did they play some great music, but just hearing about what was going on in the area -- and even listening to the local ads -- made me feel a definite sense of affinity for the region. Unfortunately, a couple of weeks ago, KSHE changed the outfit that streams their audio, to I didn't like them from the start -- they replaced the local ads with songs of their own (and it was usually something either incongruous or awful or both). But worse was to follow: they blocked Canada, and i can now no longer listen at all. Another of life's little pleasures i no longer have.

St Louis Classic Rock

One door closes, another opens. I discovered this, Internet-only station: The music is great. Unfortunately it lacks the local colour that i enjoyed so much with KSHE. It's ad-free, and i have yet to hear an actual human dee-jay, but i've been listening almost every morning.


That's all for now. Have a playlist:

Richard Thompson -- Daring Adventures
Steve Rothery -- The Ghosts Of Pripyat
Peter Hammill -- And Close As This
Van der Graaf Generator -- Merlin Atmos
Fairport Convention -- Myths And Heroes
James Taylor -- Before This World
The Cars -- Greatest Hits
Bob Dylan -- The Times They Are A-Changin'
Roxy Music -- The High Road
Fairport Convention -- The Festival Bell
Melissa Etheridge -- Yes I Am
Marillion -- Sounds That Can't Be Made
Peter Hammill -- The Silent Corner And The Empty Stage
King Crimson -- Starless And Bible Black
Ten Years After -- Live At Reading 1983
Tangerine Dream -- The Essential Tangerine Dream
Steeleye Span -- Rocket Cottage
Chris Squire -- Fish Out Of Water
Max Webster -- High Class In Borrowed Shoes
Donald Fagen -- The Nightfly
Fairport Convention -- Angel Delight
Kathy Mattea -- Coal

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

I Shall Go To St Louis!

Quotation of the day: Me (paraphrasing Dwight D. Eisenhower) ~ I shall go to St Louis

It should come as a surprise to no one that i have been planning a trip to St Louis, Missouri, for close to two years now. Without making too many sacrifices, i now have managed to save enough for the trip -- the air & train fare and five or six nights in a not-too-shabby hotel not too far away from downtown. I still have other expenses to look after: a new passport, new glasses (so that i can see what i'm looking at) and Cate will have to be boarded for a week -- oh, and i'll need to eat and drink and play tourist whilst i'm there! Things are progressing slowly but steadily and the trip is now, tentatively, planned for the third week in September. (The Cardinals play at home all that week.)

The "sacrifices" weren't all that rigorous, either. Instead of going out to lunch once a week, i've been going out once a month. Savings: $90 a month. (I'm quite happy to pay $30 for lunch, i believe that the three hour lunch is wonderful invention.) And instead of going out for a couple of beers after work 4 / 5 times a week, i've been limiting myself to thrice. Savings: $18 - $36 a week (i drink a premium ale, for my sins). It's extraordinary how quickly it adds up!

And so, on Saturday, i was at Kelsey's, having a couple of beers after work (my 3rd and final visit of last week), when my phone went (imitates ringtone) VOOM VOOM VOO VOO VOOM. (My ringtone is Tom Robinson's "2-4-6-8 Motorway", if anyone was wondering what the hell i was trying to do just there.) It was a message from my friend Chuck, in Belleville, Illinois, just across the river from St Louis. He was wondering if i'd settled on the date(s) for my visit? I replied, no, but it'll be sometime in September. He messaged back, do you have accommodation settled, to which i replied, no. Dave (a mutual friend) had offered me a place to crash in St Clair, Missouri, but there's no way to get from St Clair to St Louis unless you have a car (and i don't even drive) so that wasn't really a viable option. So i told him about the research i'd done into hotels and he wrote: save your money. I have a spare bedroom. It's sorted! Bless you, Chuck!

Belleville -- which looks like a very pretty town -- (oh, look, here's a pic!)

 is considered a part of St Louis Metro East and is served by MetroLink (the public transit system there) so getting back and forth will be no problem at all. I have so much to do, but the process is well underway!

And here's a (very short, since my last post was yesterday) playlist:

Richard Thompson -- Daring Adventures
Steve Rothery -- The Ghosts Of Pripyat
Peter Hammill -- And Close As This

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Ink, Part 2

Quotation of the day: Jon Anderson ~ Tattoo. What a loaded word it is, rife with associations to goons, goofs, bikers, tribal warriors, carnival artists, drunken sailors and floozies.

As i haven't had my ink for very long, i've been thinking quite a bit about the whole idea recently. Why do people get tattoos?

Here's what Wikipedia has to say on the subject (so it has to be taken with a grain of salt): "Many tattoos serve as rites of passage, marks of status and rank, symbols of religious and spiritual devotion, decorations for bravery, sexual lures and marks of fertility, pledges of love, punishment, amulets and talismans, protection, and as the marks of outcasts, slaves and convicts. The symbolism and impact of tattoos varies in different places and cultures. Tattoos may show how a person feels about a relative (commonly mother/father or daughter/son) or about an unrelated person.Today, people choose to be tattooed for artistic, cosmetic, sentimental/memorial, religious, and magical reasons, and to symbolize their belonging to or identification with particular groups, including criminal gangs or a particular ethnic group or law-abiding subculture."

I also heard someone say that they are a way to connect with one's tribal roots, but i don't go for that: tribalism is and always has been the cause of all war. I may be many things, but tribal? No.

So why did i get one? Partly for the experience, of course, but mostly (as it's a treble clef) to symbolize the importance of music to me. I'd been thinking about it for quite a long time, but it wasn't until four or five years ago, when i saw a photograph of Wendy Boomer with a treble clef on her arm and knew what i wanted on my arm.

I got it solely for myself, too: it's 'way up at the top of my arm, where it will be mostly invisible. I have very few (if any) shirts with sleeves so short that it will be revealed. And i'll probably never get another: after all, you wouldn't put a load of bumper stickers on a Ferrari....

It's quite a different world to that which i am used to, too -- the world of tattooing. The shop i went to is owned by a couple of guys who met when they were learning their craft in the penitentiary. The artist who did me -- an extremely pleasant guy named Jay -- he's a widower, his wife was a crack addict who died of an overdose, and his 15-year old daughter had just run off with a 17-year old dude.... He, as was his partner, was covered with ink. So different to the world of books, music and art that i inhabit.

I am very glad i did it!

Here, have a playlist:

Peter Hammill -- Skin
Steeleye Span -- Storm Force Ten
Jethro Tull -- Thick As A Brick
Ian Anderson -- Thick As A Brick 2
Rush -- Exit ... Stage Left
Sandy Denny -- Rendezvous
Stephane Grappelli -- In Tokyo
Joni Mitchell -- Don Juan's Reckless Daughter
Tim Hart & Maddy Prior -- Folksongs Of Old England, Vol. 2
Fairport Convention -- Unhalfbricking
Steeleye Span -- Tempted And Tried
Fairport Convention -- Before The Moon
Fairport Convention -- XXXV
Sandy Denny -- Sandy
Steve Rothery -- The Ghosts Of Pripyat
Chris Leslie -- Dancing Days
Jethro Tull -- The Minstrel In The Gallery
The John Kirkpatrick Band -- Welcome To Hell
Steve Earle -- El Corazon
Sandy Denny -- A Boxful Of Treasures
Mark Knopfler -- Tracker
Joni Mitchell -- Dog Eat Dog

Sunday, 17 May 2015


Quotation of the day: David Baddiel (?) ~ Conspiracy theories are how idiots get to feel like intellectuals

Let's talk about ink.

I only have one very small tattoo on my body -- a treble clef 'way up at the top of my left arm, where hardly anyone ever sees it, and that's okay -- it's only important to me, it symbolizes the fact that my life would be unthinkable without music, blah, blah, who cares anyway, right?

But i'm starting to develop a theory about people who have extraordinary, extravagant and highly-visible ink on themselves.

My theory is very inchoate at this point, but it seems to me that many of those who have a lot of ink on 'em, are desperately boring people. I suppose that it depends on the designs, though. One of my best friends at work is Kate,* a truly wonderful person and she has exceptional designs all over her arms, and they -- and she -- are really lovely. I have another friend called Kyle, who has more ink on him than anyone i've ever met -- and all of it's tasteful and well done. On him, it looks good.

On the other hand, i know a few people -- not you, Tom, Carolyn, Michele, or Lisa if you should read this! -- who have really, really boring body art and they are without exception dull, dull, dull persons.

So ... the ink reflects the person? Is that my conclusion? Well, i did say it was inchoate.

Here, have my playlist and behave yourselves.

Pink Floyd -- Live At Pompeii
Renaissance -- Scheherezade And Other Stories
Renaissance -- Novella
Quintessence -- In Blissful Company
Peter Hammill -- Patience
George Harrison -- Wonderwall Music
Be+Bop Deluxe -- Modern Music
Sky -- Sky 2
Be+Bop Deluxe -- Electrical Language
Don Henley -- The End Of The Innocence
Jethro Tull -- The Minstrel In The Gallery
Bowling For Soup -- A Hangover You Don't Deserve
Elvis Costello -- Spike
Les Paul & Friends -- American Made World Played
Mike Oldfield - Tr3s Lunas
Kate Bush -- Never For Ever
Steeleye Span -- Below The Salt
Fairport Convention -- Myths And Heroes

*What is it, i wonder, with me and women named Kate / Cate? My cat's name is Cate and i named her after one of my favourite actresses, Cate Blanchett. One of my fave singers is Kate Bush. And Kate is one of my favourite people at work -- well, anywhere, really.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Radio Radio

Quotation of the day ~ Fred Allen: Radio is called a medium because it is rare that anything is well done.

I really need to stop listening to commercial radio. It's just the same old crap over and over -- the result of exhaustive research into the audience, no doubt.

Today's my day off. As is my wont, i started the day listening to my friend Tommy T. on KSHE (from St Louis) -- he has a fabulous feature called "The Rock Magazine" every weekday morning from 4:00 'til 5:00 and either spotlights a particular performer and plays music of theirs that's rarely heard elsewhere, or has a "theme" feature -- he did "Women In Rock" just before Mother's Day, for example -- and it was all music that's rarely heard and it was fabulous. But ... apart from "The Rock Magazine" he plays, no doubt under orders, the same old crap: Z.Z.Top, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, etc., every friggin' hour.

When i'm working, i generally stick with him until it's time for me to leave for the sweatshop, but today (my day off, remember) i switched to K-ROCK (Kingston, Ontario), where my (Facebook) friend Wendy Boomer is co-host of the morning show (along with Big Kris). She's great, and the morning show is great, and they're very funny. But guess what: it's Def Leppard, Led Zeppelin and (this being a Canadian station) Rush every friggin' hour.

When the Big Kris & Boomer show ends, i generally stay with the station and listen to Courtney Murphy, who has an atrociously raw Canadian accent and a smirk in her voice that drives me nuts, but she plays some great music -- but again, it's all the same schtuff i hear every day. Not her fault, i know, and she seems a nice person, but i could quite happily live my entire life without ever hearing "Bohemian Rhapsody" or "Stairway To Heaven" ever again.

When Courtney's program ended today, i switched to KZQZ (also St Louis) -- an oldies station that was recommended to me by some friends in Belleville, Illinois. Erm -- they play music from the fifties and sixties and that theme doesn't really work for me. Basically, the fifties ended, and the sixties began, in 1963, with The Beatles' "She Loves You." which i love, of course. But The Beatles were interspersed with Bobby Vee (?) and Lesley Gore (??). Love the sixties schtuff, but a lot of the fifties music is like having nails driven into my eardrums.

So now i've switched again, this time to KOCI, a listener-supported station from Newport Beach, California. In the past half hour i have heard Bob Dylan, Marcia Ball, The Allman Brothers, The Beatles, Bonnie Raitt, Ten Years After, Cat Stevens and it's all been abfab. This could well be my new favourite radio station! (And a shout-out to my friend George Golde, who lives in L.A., city of angels, for telling me about it.) If i have one complaint about KOCI, it's that i haven't found a link on their website that will tell me what's playing. They play some pretty obscure schtuff, and i'd love to know what it is sometimes. They played, for example, a song that i'd never heard before and i could have sworn it was by Rory Gallagher (my favourite guitarist), but i couldn't find the info anywhere. I even emailed them to ask what it was, but they didn't respond.

The playlist:

Pink Floyd -- Live At Pompeii
Renaissance -- Scheherezade And Other Stories
Renaissance -- Novella
Quintessence -- In Blissful Company
Peter Hammill -- Patience
George Harrison -- Wonderwall Music
Be+Bop Deluxe -- Modern Music
Sky -- Sky 2
Be+Bop Deluxe -- Electrical Language

Monday, 4 May 2015

Re-Assessing Crabby Joe's

Quotation Of The Day ~ Clive James: Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing. Those who lack humor are without judgment and should be trusted with nothing.

As i wrote recently, Crabby Joe's Tap & Grill Stratford is a lovely new boozer in town. In my previous post about it, i wrote that the only reason that i probably wouldn't frequent it was that they didn't have open Wi-fi. Nevertheless, i had lunch there a second time, had an excellent clubhouse sandwich and had the same barmaid with the spray-painted-on trousers and trust me, on her, they work!

And my dear friend Jill came in for a drink with her brother, and i bought her one and i was liking the place more and more by the minute (in spite of no Wi-fi).

However, although they don't have open Wi-fi, they do have Wi-fi, and i have a friend who works in the kitchen there and (chortle) he gave me the password. And so, armed with this, i went in for a drink after work on Wednesday. And the first thing i noticed was a new sign on the door suggesting Wi-fi was available. Oh, cool, i thought, but when i tried to connect to their network, it still required a password (?). Maybe the staff are empowered to give you the password if you ask for it? But i wasn't worried: i had it!

And yet again i had the same attractive bartender. She's very nice (turns out her name is Jess) but i suspect she's high-maintenance: everything about her appearance is perfect (or purr-fect, if you prefer). (On the other hand, maybe she's just naturally perfect; further research is indicated.) (I actually found a photograph of her on the Internet, too, but i'm not going to post it. Invasion of privacy and all that, although it was scary how easy it was to find....)

So, i'll just post some different eye candy, a pic of Kira Milan, one of my favourite girls of all time.

And my playlist, too!

Fairport Convention -- Myths And Heroes
John Kirkpatrick -- Plain Capers
Oysterband -- Holy Bandits
The Albion Country Band -- The Battle Of The Field
Saga -- Images At Twilight
Runrig -- In Search Of Angels
Cat Stevens -- Mona Bone Jakon
Marillion -- Brave Live 2013
Saga -- House Of Cards
Ten Years After -- Live At Reading, 1983

Monday, 27 April 2015

Erik Larson And Impending Doom, The Prequel

Quotation of the day ~ Linus Torvalds: the people have spoken...most of it was complete gibberish

I have just finished another, earlier, book by Erik Larson: Isaac's Storm (1999). It's the story of Isaac Cline, the head of the U.S. Weather Bureau in Galveston Texas from 1889 to 1901. Erik Larson is such a great writer that he can make meteorology exciting!

But here's the thing -- an event i had hitherto known nothing about. The worst hurricane in American history smashed head-first into Galveston on September 8th, 1900, killing over 6,000 people (some estimates put it as high as 12,000) (1800 people died in Hurricane Katrina, to put it in perspective).

Isaac saw the storm coming, but failed to appreciate its intensity. Later, in his autobiography, he claimed to have warned people to evacuate, but Larson argues, convincingly, that this simply wasn't true. Isaac was as astonished as anyone when roof tiles started flying through the air with such strength that they were decapitating people, and when the flood waters rose to beyond the height of his house (he nearly drowned, his wife wasn't as lucky).

A great deal of the book concerns itself with how hurricanes form; a lot concerns itself with life in Galveston on September 7th, 1900 -- where we meet all manner of the local citizenry ... and know that many of them will die. The sense of impending doom is overwhelming.

Here, lighten up, let's have a playlist:

Sky -- Sky 2
Pyewackett -- Pyewackett
Tangerine Dream -- The Essential Tangerine Dream
Ten Years After -- Watt
Home -- The Alchemist
Wishbone Ash -- Here To Hear
Max Webster -- High Class In Borrowed Shoes
Horslips -- Happy To Meet, Sorry To Part
Rory Gallagher -- Top Priority
Fairport Convention -- The Jewel In The Crown
Martin Carthy -- Sweet Wivelsfield
The Albion Country Band -- The Battle Of The Field
The Art Of Noise -- (Who's Afraid Of) The Art Of Noise
Brand X -- Unorthodox Bahaviour
The Cars -- The Essentials
Trigger Hippy -- Trigger Hippy
Runrig -- Party On The Moor
Bill Bruford -- Feels Good To Me
Tangerine Dream -- Poland
Led Zeppelin --III
Thunder -- The Joy Of Six

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Dead Wake

Quotation of the day: Erik Larson ~ I'm very perverse. If someone tells me I have to read a book, I'm instantly disinclined to do so.

I've just finished reading Erik Larson's latest book, “Dead Wake – The Last Crossing of The Lusitania,” and it's the best thing i've read in a while. You have to read it. ;-)

In case you don't know the name, Mr Larson is an historian whose forté is taking different historical incidents and linking them together in ways that one might not otherwise have considered, although in this instance, the link is fairly obvious. The book combines, in a fairly even mix, the story of R.M.S. Lusitania and its final voyage, with a description of the German submarine program during World War I and of life aboard U-20, the submarine that sank her in 1915, causing the deaths of nearly 1200 souls. It's a fascinating and compelling tale, an un-put-downable book.

As i read the tales of life aboard ship, friendhsips made, parties held, the lives of the elegant first-class passengers, i felt the same way that i did when i saw the film World Trade Center. An overpowering sense of impending doom. Those poor people heading into their offices on September 11, those poor people on the boat enjoying their voyage, with no idea what lay ahead.


Steeleye Span -- Commoner's Crown
Van der Graaf Generator -- Pawn Hearts
Peter Hammill -- Skin
Brand X -- Unorthodox Behaviour
Steeleye Span -- Ten Man Mop, Or, Mr Reservoir BUtler Rides Again
Sky -- Sky 2
Marillion -- Anoraknophobia
Jon Anderson -- Olias Of Sunhillow
Colin James -- Bad Habits
Fairport Convention -- Myths And Heroes

Monday, 13 April 2015

Crabby Joe's, Stratford

Quotation Of The Day: Joe Cocker ~ I think the only thing I would've ever been any good at was probably being a pub landlord. I've thought of that a couple of times.

And so today, my afternoon off, i hied me to Crabby Joe's Stratford outlet – a restaurant that had been closed for over a year after their erstwhile manager did a bunk with the day's takings and the contents of the safe. It's a small franchise and it was taken over by Corporate, completely gutted and re-designed and re-opened just a couple of weeks ago. Today was my first – and probably my last visit.

I didn't go in very often when they were open previously. They used to have complementary peanuts on the bar and the peanut shells all over the floor deterred me more than a little.

When i walked in at lunch time today, i was at first very impressed: the place looks great! Bright and spacious and cheerful, totally different to what it had been. Another point in its favour – they sell my beer. (Not everywhere does, and one factor in my going there today was that i knew that my usual pub was out of it until later this afternoon) (and i'm fussy about my beer – if i can't get it i'm lost).

A third point was, i am not ashamed to admit (shallow and dirty-old-mannish as i am) the servers' uniforms consist of low-cut and very tight t-shirts, and trousers that look like they were spray-painted on. If my bartender had been a blimp, this could have been grotesque, but she wasn't – she was, in fact, quite attractive and extraordinarily callipygous.

As for the food, there was nothing too different on the menu – same old schtuff you get everywhere. Burgers, wings, fingers, all that. I ordered a burger (they wouldn't cook it medium well for me, unfortunately – but the trend these days, especially in franchises, seems to be that all burgers shall be well done) with caesar salad and it was fine, very tasty in fact.

And my bill was very reasonable – two pints + lunch came to $28 + tip.

So far, so good, right? So why will my first visit quite possibly also be my last? Very simple: no Wi-Fi. I mean, WTF??? I mean, everywhere has free Wi-Fi, even the lowliest of the low, like A & W. When i go to a pub, usually alone, i like to catch up on email and Facebook and all the news of the day using the phone or the iPad, and that is what i like to do, dammit it. Couldn't do it today, though.

Oh, well, here's my most recent playlist:

Steeleye Span -- Commoner's Crown
Van der Graaf Generator -- Pawn Hearts
Peter Hammill -- Skin
Brand X -- Unorthodox Behaviour
Steeleye Span -- Ten Man Mop, Or, Mr Reservoir Butler Rides Again
Sky -- Sky 2
Marillion -- Anoraknophobia
Jon Anderson -- Olias Of Sunhillow
Colin James -- Bad Habits
Fairport Convention -- Myths And Heroes
Jon Anderson -- Deseo
Max Webster -- High Class In Borrowed Shoes
Steeleye Span -- Commoner's Crown
The Cecil Sharp Centenary Collective -- As I Cycled Out On A May Morning
Donovan -- What's Bin Did And What's Bin Hid
Dead Can Dance -- Within The Realm Of A Dying Sun
The Allman Brothers Band -- Beginnings

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

The Hobbit vs. Peter Jackson

Quotation of the day ~ J.R.R. Tolkien: If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.

Just finished watching, for the third time, the DVDs of Peter Jackson's “The Hobbit” trilogy, and i have a major problem with it.

Don't get me wrong: i love it. The action is exciting beyond belief -- i was sweating at times -- there are moments of great sadness that had me (almost) on the edge of tears, the attention to detail is impeccable, and the CGI is mind-blowing.

My problem is, “The Hobbit,” Tolkien's book, is a fairly slender volume (just over 300 pages in my edition) and a slender tale, yet Peter Jackson felt it necessary to stretch it out over three films, each of which was close to three hours long. To fill it out, he included many products of his own imagination. To be sure, he's a visionary, but ... he's no Tolkien. Some of his additions are fine, but some are simply stupid, for example when Thorin Oakenshield imagines himself being engulfed in a sea of golden quicksand. Yeah, yeah, we know: Thorin is obsessed with Smaug's treasure, already. Sheesh. About as subtle as an ingot in the ear-hole.

So, i think that possibly Mr Jackson forgot what Prof. Tolkien said and i quoted above, and was thinking of profit lines rather than artistic integrity: two films would have been more than adequate.

End of rant.

I haven't written a playlist in a while, here's a recent one:

The Beatles - Let It Be
Oysterband - Diamonds On The Water
Kim Mitchell - Aural Fixations
Peter Hammill - pH7
Peter Hammill - And Close As This
Various Artists - Morris On The Road
Trigger Hippy - Trigger Hippy
Jimi Hendrix - Band Of Gypsys, Live At The Fillmore East
Wishbone Ash - On Air
Rory Gallagher - The Beat Club Sessions
Fish - A Feast Of Consequences
Billy Joel - Streetlife Serenade
Linda Ronstadt - Greatest Hits
Jethro Tull - Benefit
Jethro Tull - War Child

Monday, 23 March 2015

Target Canada

Quotation Of The Day: Pablo Picasso --"God created the giraffe, the cat, the elephant... He has no style, he just keeps trying things."

OK, here we go, my first post in a while.

I just have too many distractions, that's my problem. Oh, Internet, what hast thou wrought...? And that's another thing, my connection was so unreliable for a while .... After many calls to tech support i finally went down to their office and was given a new modem and a new ethernet cable. It has been 100% solid ever since.

(You see, i listen to radio station[s] online every morning KSHE, K-ROCK and KOCI mostly, so i know whenever the connection fails for more than two seconds -- it takes the audio stream down with it.)

Anyway, the subject of this first post in yonks is ... tra la! ... Target Canada.

The American retailer opened in Canada with great fanfare, with nearly 200 locations, beginning in March 2013 (the one in Stratford opened just before Christmas of that year) and immediately started losing money. I'm not surprised, to be honest -- i think i was only in there twice, and wasn't happy either time. The goods i bought were shoddy (a three-pack of boxer shorts and the elastic was gone in all three within a trimester?), the salespersons  were either too busy gossiping to approach me when i was obviously lost, or invisible altogether, and the cashiers, whilst not exactly surly, were a long way from being friendly. So i never went in again. (I prefer Sears anyway.)

(Now, i have a friend who works at the Target in Thunder Bay, Ontario -- she loves her job, thinks Target is a great place to work, and, Christine, if you're reading this, i apologise to you, perhaps Thunder Bay is a nicer place than Stratford.)

In January 0f 2015, Target Canada declared bankruptcy and announced plans to close all of their locations. They handled it very nicely, too -- my friend in Thunder Bay learned of this when she saw it on the TV news. Nice one, Target Canada! (If Sheldon Cooper is reading this, that's satire.) The store in Stratford was one of the first to go -- it shut down last week.

And i can understand why they were haemorrhaging money. There couldn't possibly have been anyone in town who didn't know they were closing -- it was all over the local news and the big STORE CLOSING sign out front would have been another  hint -- yet they felt it necessary to hire a couple of men to walk up and down Ontario Street carrying placards with "Store Closing -- Up To 30% Off!" on them. What a waste of money. (And i felt sorry for the poor buggers, too -- the temperature was hovering around the -20° mark that week.) (I imagine that they were lamenting their career choices by the second day.)

(Another reason i like Sears: they invited all of the now-unemployed Stratford Target staff to submit job applications. Walmart remained oddly quiet on the matter -- well, i never go into Walmart anyway).

So it goes.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Still Here!

It's time to get this limping dog of a blog up and running again....