Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Music of Television

"Television. The drug of the nation, breeding ignorance and feeding radiation." - Disposable Hereos of the Hiphoprisy.

Television. Vilified. Derided. Decried. Abhorred. Often, television's detractors are quite hypocritical, or at least sickeningly self-righteous. But there is no doubt that television has earned its vilification. However, the evils of TV are not what I am going to write about. I was looking over the song in my iTunes library today and I realised that there many songs on there that I have because I heard them on television. I have heard good music via television programming - including commercials. Below are two different examples I have heard via an Addidas ad and Lost.

This is the original version of Dee Edwards' "Why Can't There Be Love". Addidas came out with a pretty slick campaign and used a remix of the song in a series of ads. It was catchy. I didn't by any shoes because of it, but I did hunt the song down on iTunes and bought it.

Admittedly, I didn't watch lost while it was running on television. I have been watching it on Netflix. Unlike Soul music, I am not a huge fan of country. I have artists I like, songs I like, but I don't go out of my way to listen to it or explore it. And then this one episode of Lost grabbed me. Guy drops the needle on his turntable soon after waking up. The song plays, the songs skips repeatedly and is stopped. It was catchy. It was infectious. It was Willie Nelson's "Shotgun Willie".

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Blogging on the Edge

So I bought an iPhone a little while back and finally downloaded the Blogger App. This is just a test. More later. Maybe. If I feel like it.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Of Bugs and Birds


I went out today, walking to the Starbucks downtown for tea and then back home again. On my way back home I saw a magpie sitting on a white SUV parked in a lot. It was chattering away looking into the windshield in earnest before hopping over to the passenger's side view mirror. After taking an extending peek underneath his feet into the mirror, the magpie starting staring into and chattering away at the passenger's side window. Later it was back to the windshield before hopping up to the sunroof. It was at this point I became certain that it wasn't itself that the magpie was chattering at, but something inside that it desperately wanted. I watched as it pecked at the sunroof and tried picking away at the sides of it before flying off to a tree.


One thing that Lower Mainlanders don't experience with any frequency are "bug explosions". I recall a couple of ladybug explosions (very cool) and one mosquito explosion (not cool at all) that I have yet to see repeated with the same severity. Since moving to Saskatchewan I have seen one bug explosions after another summer after summer. The explosions are as follows:

2008: Gnats/thrips in June and July. Hornets in August.
- The thrips and gnats would try to fly up your nose, in your ears, open mouths and in your eyes
- The hornets were aggressive, plentiful and everywhere.

2009: House flies, end of July to September. Maybe other species, but they were all black and plentiful.
- They were everywhere, more everywhere than the hornets in 2008. There was nowhere you could go to get away from them, just places with less than others. When I went to take garbage out to the dumpster by my old building, I had to fire it over to the dumpster from at least 10 feet away to avoid the explosion of flies that would erupt from it and form a thick, black, buzzing cloud for the next 20 minutes.

2010: Mosquitoes all summer long.
- Not as bad as the explosion I saw in the Fraser Valley back home, but it lasted a lot longer and made life miserable. As I recently discovered, I am allergic to mosquito bites. It made life here really unpleasant. Night or day, the little bastards were out for blood and it seemed they were particularly fond of mine. After my holiday in the middle of August, they seemed a bit thinner by the time I got back, but they still persisted into September.

2011 so far: Mosquitoes and Dragonflies.
- Around the end of June to about three weeks ago we had a repeat of last summer. It was damned near impossible for me to enjoy a walk, so I was just staying home. But then three weeks ago there was an explosion of dragonflies. It was a sight to see and a personal dream come true for me. I love dragonflies. I love to watch them flying. And I love the fact that they feed on mosquitoes. They have really made difference in the mosquito populations here, so much so I can walk out side at night and the early morning in peace.
The larger blue and green dragonflies have been dwindling, but a new population of smaller dragonflies have appeared. They are metallic yellow, orange and green and I have seen a couple of blood red ones as well. They were darting around the grass at City Hall and here in my neighbourhood of City Park all day in near swarms. Beautiful and sanity saving.

Monday, June 27, 2011

R.I.P Yacov Yisrael Bak

16 December, 1984 - 27 June, 2011

Today is my birthday and I got the call I have been expecting for a while now. My oldest friend Elijah lost his little brother Yakov sometime earlier today.
I had met Yakov shortly after I had met his brother sometime after December 1988. The kid had energy to burn, always wanting a play fight. He would attack me and I would chuck him into the couch. He always came back for more, a most implacable and inexhaustible adversary. Eventually, Elijah moved out of the house and I didn't see much of Yakov at all after age 8, only briefly to see a film with him, Elijah and his friend Skylar.
Yakov was 14 by the time I had any real contact with him, I went with him, Skylar and Elijah to see the Tragically Hip at the Pacific Colosseum. He was so quiet, introverted almost - it was a big change from the strong-willed ball of energy I knew a few years previously. Life hadn't been particularly easy for him so I assumed it was early teenage lack of self-esteem and figured he'd find himself as time went on. But age 17 rolled up and he seemed he seemed lass certain of himself, more withdrawn and even unable to articulate himself.
Eventually it would become known to his family and to the rest of us that Yakov was an undiagnosed schizophrenic and, as is sadly typical in these cases, in the clutches of a horrible addiction attempting to find a way to make sense of himself and deal with what was going on inside himself.
I'd like to have something happy to reflect upon on this occasion, but I don't. Yakov's life - what became of it - fills me with sadness.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

R.I.P. Auntie Eleanor

My Auntie Eleanor passed away on 14 June, 2011. I see much of her in me. We have similar temperaments - she could be a real bitch, but I am equally capable of being a total bastard. We had similar interests in writing, poetry, politics. We were both dreamers and we both have seen how we failed to capitalize on our potentials. Does that sound harsh? If it does, I assure you no ill will was directed her way.
She was horrible to her own children. She had many problems and was afraid to face them, it would seem. But in all the negative stuff that surrounds her, I remember the aunt who liked embarrassing me with kisses. I remember the aunt who gave me poetry and took me to readings. I remember the aunt who only ever had smile for me and the kindness in her eyes when she did so. I'll miss her and I regret not having been able to spend time with her.

Friday, June 3, 2011

In Praise of Terry Jones

Back in 2006, Terry Jones - of Monty Python fame - and the BBC released a documentary series called Terry Jones' Medieval Lives. Jones, aside from being a culturally significant writer, director and comedian, is also an Oxford educated historian. Jones was interviewed in The Observer and stated his reasons for making the series:

"The main reason I wanted to make Medieval Lives was to get my own back on the Renaissance. It's not that the Renaissance has ever done me any harm personally, you understand. It's just that I'm sick of the way people's eyes light up when they start talking about the Renaissance. I'm sick of the way art critics tend to say: 'Aaaah! The Renaissance!' with that deeply self-satisfied air of someone who is at last getting down to the Real Thing. And I'm sick to death of that ridiculous assumption that that before the Renaissance human beings had no sense of individuality."

As it happens, I agree with the positions that Jones takes throughout the series. Jones tackles common misconceptions and myths that persist about the Medieval age and its peoples even to today. He presents the commonly held belief and then counters it. For instance, he looks at the legacy of the three King Richards, and how one has been unjustly "lionised" (pardon the pun) and the other two unjustly vilified.
I once wrote a paper entitled Perceptions of Satan through the Medieval Ages, (sadly lost along with the discs in a burglary) in which I posited that the Medieval peoples were far less superstitious regarding witchcraft (and Satan) then the people who came after them. Medieval teachings stated that all power comes from God, therefore witches had no power - it was just superstition. Jones reiterates that sentiment in the episode that looks at the status of women in the Medieval Age.
I was never able to see the series when it ran on cable television, but I picked up Netflix when I bought my XBOX and the series is on that service. Well worth checking out. I am looking forward to seeing Terry Jones' Barbarians as well, when it is offered.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Doomsday, Foiled Again

When I was a kid my Mum and her husband joined a so-called "Non-Denominational" church, which many Christians will understand to mean "Charismatic". The charismatic movement is a neo-Pentecostal movement that sprung onto the scene in the 1960's and had influence on many denominations within the sphere of Christendom. Belief in the Rapture is a common element in Pentecostal and neo-Pentecostal churches. I recall that some of the people at my Mum's church had scared the crap out of me with talk about the Rapture and the End Times when I was 12 and 13.
I spent a great deal of time reading through the Bible and the Book of Revelations trying to suss up what I was reading with what they were saying. I came to the conclusion in my early teens that there was no such thing as the Rapture and that I disagreed with a great many of their other doctrines. Over the years I had heard many discussions on eschatology and nothing has been able to disuade me that the Rapture just isn't real. Needless to say I wasn't sweating when Harold Camping and Family Radio made their announcement about Doomsday falling on this day, 21 may 2011. (6pm local time)
I wasn't worried about the Rapture, but I did worry all Christians being painted with the same brush. People are turning away from the Faith, not a big deal if you don't believe but not so great if you do. Much of this is the fault of Christians themselves and their callous politics the run counter to the Faith they swear to serve. Rather than behaving more like disciples of Christ we have become more like the Pharisees and Sadducees. And then there are the people like Harold Camping and the Rapture crowd.
The notion the Rapture didn't exist in Christianity before sometime in the 18th Century. I am not going to get into the arguments between Dispensationalists, Pre/Mid/Post/A-Millennialists, Pre-Tribulationists, simply because I divorced myself from these concerns and found them to be counterproductive. I have often found that the people who desire Rapture and Judgement are the people who are so terribly insecure in their own salvation and Faith, people who (deep down inside) need something to save them from themselves. There is nothing in the Bible that states there will be a "Rapture" let alone the day or the hour. People will, are and have been hardened against my Faith. There are people who will be disillusioned and many who will glad for it.
Of course if you don't believe in God, then I am just another looney primitive minded individual who can't move past primordial superstition and clap-trap. Whatever. I don't celebrate Camping's folly, I pity it. I won't gloat either. It's a sad day for me: significant damage has been done and Judgement draws even closer.