A blog

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The calling

Over the last six weeks, golb has featured entries that could be categorized as:

  • Music and music commentary (1, 2, 3, 4)

  • Concert review (1, 2)

  • Film criticism (1)

  • The fashion industry (1, 2)

  • Photography (1, 2, 3)

  • Art review (1)

  • Graphics and design (1)

  • The bloody weather (1, 2, 3)

  • Other, wtf? (1)

I'm not saying I should maintain categories for the site - just the opposite actually. Spouting off about all manner of things is fun. There's great freedom in that, but I've always intended to use this space as a testing ground. It's good to specialize and now I can say for certain what areas I can't or wouldn't like to focus on. Don't worry - I won't be unveiling a weather blog, but on Thursday I will launch a new chronicle on a single topic.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Meteorologist 1, golbologist 0

A couple of weeks ago, I claimed that the extreme 14-day weather forecast was the greatest racket in all of science. Now, about 14 days later, the results are in. I was wrong. The weatherman was right. Almost 100% right.

The yellow line indicates the forecast; red indicates reported conditions. The only errors with the Nov 11-24 forecast were minor. Its stingy scattering of the promise of sunshine wasn't stingy enough. Even the stingiest of scatter never actually happened - during these past weeks or at all this entire autumn. Can't shoot the messenger for that.

Even when I finally had the past weather results in my front me, I was sure the 14-day prediction was going to be incorrect. So maybe it's my long-term memory that's faulty, not the long-range forecast. Maybe I'm a fairweather amnesiac. This fall, I can't remember the last time nice weather has been predicted and it actually panned out. Maybe I could plot out my condition on a graph...

Or maybe I couldn't. Yet again the line between science and fun budges not.

It is full-fledged winter here now, still a full month from the winter solstice, the season's actual start. Only three days away is a reliable forecast of a large warm front, bringing rain and rising temperatures. Perhaps that means the tornado slated for the 20th (or is that the 21st?) won't be one of those snowy whacked-out jobs from The Wiz.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Career Mom

It's my mother's birthday this week. Which gets me to thinking. What would it mean if Janet Jackson was the mother of 18 year old?

  1. that uniform from her warrior-dancer-of-the-future Rhythm Nation video wasn't poorly designed and ill-fitting - she just had a bun in the oven

  2. an exposed starburst titty at the Super Bowl actually says more about the woes of beastfeeding than it does about wardrobe malfunctions

  3. the sexual revolution of 1993's janet. wasn't about finally losing inhibitions and putting it out there - it was about finally losing the pounds from her secret pregnancy

  4. signing deals with A&M and then suddenly jumping ship to Virgin was more than a matter of artistic freedom; Janet had a desperate anti-DeBarge message to send subliminally: "Ms. Jackson touts a new label legacy - AM ... Virgin"

  5. The crying subject of the OutKast song "Ms. Jackson" could actually be Janet's daughter, Renee

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Meet the mushups: Next generation mashups

The Processed Press is a bastard pop bootleg of DJ Shadow's The Private Press. First appearing this summer, it was attributed to Prosac but the site that hosted the album recording removed it a while ago. Prosac is now busy with much new fine material, apparently. But luckily, a lot of the individual tracks are still out there, including my favourite "Mongrel Galang..." - (DJ Shadow vs M.I.A.). It's a simple overlay - more of a mushup than a mashup, but not that that's a bad thing.

For a while it was hard not to be jaded by mashups. I got the feeling that after the right amount of tinkering, one song's beats could be eventually be mapped perfectly onto any old track. In the worst cases, it was all math and no poetry. When the goal is to come up with something that is greater than the sum of its parts, arithmetic ain't gonna get you there.

Mushups more or less have two tracks playing together and just let the sparks fly, which exactly describes Prosac's "Mongrel Galang...". Because it's a track with vocals laid down on an instrumental there's a seamlessness like an A vs B, yet it offers so much more: One voice, two rhythm tracks that compliment each other, and as an added bonus, Prosac brilliantly pulls in M.I.A.'s nonalbum self-titled track towards the end. DJing masterstroke! You know you've spun it right when you'd rather hear these three tracks together than on their own. The word is synergy.

The g58 mushup...

Until I get some proper webspace for hosting, it is the same lame routine to hear the sound file (at least this m4a was done with Audacity rather than Wiretap):

Go to the Yahoo briefcase login screen and enter...

Yahoo ID: golb58
Password: Click here and I'll tell you
(from there, click on Briefcase address http://ca.briefcase.yahoo.com/golb58)

Friday, November 18, 2005

The Swanson continuum

This is going to sound really stupid. But never mind that, I'll cut directly to the part that you don't know.


Swanson: Yesterday's silent star of the silver screen has become today's silent star of television viewing enjoyment!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Into cubism

I was alone. It was 6 o'clock in the morning. I had to leave.

The streetcars in Prague were returning from the Old City to Vysehrad and the outskirts beyond it. They edged along narrow tracks and though they did not move fast you could not get a good look inside them. Walking beside them, I wondered if there were commuters on their way into work. Were they sitting or were they standing? The windows seemed to catch a glare and hold it. It didn't matter what angle keen peering eyes had. It was as good as all the tourists in the city gazing into the Charles River, which flowed behind the cars. Perceiving anything past the surface was impossible.

Very soon, I would have to board one to get to the airport.
But not immediately. I walked on. Josef Chochol's buildings were not far along this line. They often faced the traffic. You couldn't miss his houses, even though at first I wasn't sure if had already passed others like them on the street leading to Libusina 3.

Libusina 3 was guarded and had entrances on two streets. It was not far from the intersection that Neklanova 30 presided over. Silent, steely and boastful, I was surprised to find that the dwelling at Neklanova 30 was unlocked and I slipped inside.

Josef Chochol finished this apartment house in 1914. Interiors echoed the outside. The hall was completely empty and quiet. Flat features like ceilings and glass doors had geometric relief. Every surface wanted to be a corner, a joist, any point at which two planes could meet. I opened an the inner door on the vestibule. I hoped the sound I was making did not carry. I crept up a darkened staircase.

There was no elevator. I debated how many floors I should go up. The third was no more interesting than the second. Maybe the fourth would reward me. Occasional small windows offered some dim light so I could determine that each landing had a few units. Not the slightest movement - was this building vacant? For my own sake, I hoped the apartment doors I eased past were thick. It was now only 6:30. Not knowing much convincing Czech, how could I explain myself on the fifth floor, sputtering camera in hand? One last photo and I wouldn't have to give it another thought. The batteries had gotten so low that my flash was not working. I noticed the lights overhead and wished they were turned on. I saw the switch on the wall and hit it. A buzzer rang. It was loud and long. Much longer than I had held it. Much longer than time I stood stunned, remarking at the strange distance between a Czech apartment buzzer and its door. It lasted even longer than I could hear it resounding down the staircase but my pounding feet on each descending cubist step kept me from knowing that for sure.

*Cubist architecture is inspired from the paintings of Picasso and Braque. Their basic idea was to convey three dimensions when their canvases only had two by not adhering to a single perspective. Cubist theory is not particularly germane to architecture, but Joseph Chochol, among others, were taken with cubism's unique geometry as well as the reduction and fragmentation of planes ... Worldwide, the Czech Republic is the only home to cubist houses.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Signifier identifier / siigi)iifiieir iiolei)l-iifiieir

ii i) l- ir o ol u c ii i) g     i)) y     i) e vv     l- y p e f a c e :

ii l-     ii s     s ll ii g fj l- ll y     n o ir ol ii c - ll o o k ii i) g ,     s o     ii
c a ll ll     ii l-     '' l- fj e     a i) i) ii e     f o i) l- '' ,    ii i)     fj o i) o u ir
o f     l- fj e     i) o ir vv e ii g ii a i)     p o p s l- a ir .

l- fj ii s     f o i) l-     ii s     c o i)) p o s e ol     o f     o l- fj e ir     f o i) l- s .. .. ..
ii     m e a i)     l- o     s a y     l- fj a l-    m y     l- y p e f a c e     ii s
f o ir i)) e ol    b y     l- fj e     i)) a i) ii p u ll a l- ii o i)     a i) ol
ir e - ii i) l- e g ir a l- ii o i)    o f     e x ii s l- ii i) g    l- y p e .    ii     fj o p e
l- o     i)) a k e     ii l-     m o ir e     ll e g ii lo ll e     s o o i) ,     lo u l-
a s     y o u     c a i)     i i)) a g ii i) e ,     ii     a i))     ll ii i)) ii l- e ol
b y     l- fj e     lo u ii ll ol ii i) g - lo l o c k s     ii " v e     c fj o s e i)     l- o
u s e .

ii f     y o u '' v e     e v e ir     vv o i) ol e ir e ol     vv fj e ir e     a
p a ir l- ii c u ll a ir     l- y p e f a c e     c o i)) e s     f ir o i)) ,     vv fj a l-
ii l-     ii s     c a ll ll e ol ,    o ir     fj o vv     y o u     c a i)     ol o vv i) ll o a ol
a     f o i) l- ,    p ll e a s e     c fj e c k     o u l- :

   vv vv vv .. ii ol e i) l- ii f o i) l- .. c o i)).

l- fj e     s ii l- e     c a l- a ll o g s    i)) a i) y     l- y p e f a c e s
h o vv e v e ir     a i) i) ii e     ii s     i) o l-     y e l-     o i) e     o f     l- fj e i)) .
[[     a     ol ii f f e ir e i) l-     l- y p e     k i) o vv i)     a s     '' l- u g lo o a l-     a i) i) ii e ''
ii s     ll ii s l- e ol     - -     ol o i) " l-     i)) ii x     l- fj e     l- vv o     u p .     ]]

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Rollercoaster thrills

Extreme weather time. What's been going on lately? Hurricanes at maximum force line up to take one kick after another at a recordbreaking '05 season. Then once they are finished, level-one tornadoes swoop in for another piece of the action, which is bizarre because these guys have a season that runs before that of the hurricanes, not after. So this extreme weather - it's a bit extreme. Especially when it starts hitting places it usually doesn't.

On Hamilton mountain, it's currently volleyball season so imagine the setters' and spikers' surprise when a twister shoots through the gymnasium roof ("There's no twisters in volleyball!!" - it's no wonder there aren't with all the debris they send down onto the court... kneepads won't make much of a difference).

Hamilton is in an area of southwestern Ontario normally sheltered from major weather happenings. Occurrences are so rare here that it took the meteorologists a whole day to finally confirm what spawned all the wind damage.

And with this extreme weather comes extreme weather monitoring, which so far this year has been the part that concerns me. Extreme weather monitoring is not "let's go tornado-chasing in Niagara Falls this Thanksgiving," but rather endlessly looking at charts, reports and forecasts that detail the projected atmospheric conditions of next twenty days. And of course those long-range forecasts are never right. I don't know why I read them. They never mention 'tornado to hit gym' or 'you're going to see a few snowflakes come out of that passing thunderstorm'.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Tiny Builders

Tagged as ...

Accretion 6, encaustic on wood, John Drew Munro

Tiny Builders is the title of a new solo exhibition of paintings by John Drew Munro. His pieces, like "Accretion 6" (shown above), inhabit a space between two worlds: they are paintings, but the way colour and texture have been applied is far from a typical brushstroke technique. Thousands of dots scatter onto his canvases in a way that suggests something more like printmaking than painting. For Tiny Builders, Munro used a workmanlike reductive technique: he went at layers of beeswax with drills and chisels and then reapplied more wax to fill the voids left by his tools. The result offers depth similar to inlaid glass tiles with suspended globules or flecks of glitter. Other times the materials protrude from the canvas and suggest sculptural relief.

But not only is the medium a bit of a hybrid. There is also an interesting relationship between science and his art. Conjuring up images of solar systems - but also at times microscopic single-celled organisms, colour blindness tests and psychiatric ink blots - Munro's dots illustrate the world of scientific discovery. They are the builders of the exhibit's title, a reference to the small specks (atoms) that combine to create the reality around us.

Notes from the exhibition explain how old high school textbooks inspired Munro, and when you take a closer look at the Accretion Disc series, it's a lesson in astrophysics. The astronomical sense of the term “accretion” describes how matter is pulled into a body (such as a black hole) as it spins. This idea is the show's central conceit: "The wax surface becomes a form of solid light," Munro writes, "while the dots may be considered as matter constructing itself." Nietzsche wrote that treating science as art makes humankind more comfortable with its knowledge of the world. And Einstein could be seen as an artist whom Nature enlists to convey her works. Munro’s work is in line with those lofty and, at times, celestial ideas.

Tiny Builders opened this past weekend at the McClure Gallery and will run until November 26.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Shania and Britt

Shania Twain and Britt Daniel don't share much, I keep telling myself. Google tells me so too. Petite international songbird from Timmins, Ontario; lanky indie-type of the pop margins. Shania often performs live in front of a wind-tunnel fan, giving her locks a breezy take-my-photo look; with Britt you should be warned to keep the lens cap on for fear of flying spittle.

But last night, on the moistened stage at Club Soda, Britt Daniel, lead of Austin-band Spoon, hit his nasal falsettos with Shania-like regularity. He strummed along in an incredibly dreamy, slowed-down version of "I Summon You" that did something to me only "Forever and For Always" has done before: Took an annoyingly high pitch, overly repetitive verse and sang it over and over until I caved. There's just something about a little vocal tic they both do - Shania's is kind of a "aghhh-uhhhh" while Britt goes more like "uhhh-honnh". Sold!

Like Shania, Britt Daniel makes for a very charismatic performer - even when he stops singing. He praised the audience which was filled with young'uns in t-shirts who bopped along enthusiastically to grooves like "They Never Got You", a choice Hall & Oates-inspired cut. Earlier, after a five-song set to start the show, Britt waxed nostalgic about the last stop in town - Fall 2002 at Casa del Popolo, he recalled - and then made it no secret that a crowd twenty times Casa's was getting him pumped up. He spat (respectfully to an empty area stage-left - another potential Shania-like bit of politesse though I've yet to see her spit), he danced (often with his guitar in an interesting bit of choreography), he said goodnight by way of a shrieking and sincere 'wo-hoo!' and then he exited into the night leaving adoring fans screaming for another encore. But no, the echo of the heavy-duty rockout of "My Mathematical Mind" would be final song of the evening and never again the Twain shall meet.