Sunday, July 22, 2007

Can we replay or recreate sensual memories ?

I've been struggling for a long time on seeing if there is a way to simulate a vacation, or perhaps recreate that special day from a past vacation, or even trying to recreate the feelings of that beautiful day spent abroad. There are a number of elements that make up a memory. Many of those elements can be recreated, but some are very elusive.
  • Music and Sounds. Well you know where I stand on music and the mood it can create. This is the easy one and why music is such a wonderful experience. Whenever I hear La Vie en Rose, I think of walking home from a busy day sightseeing in Venice with my brother. It was getting dark and we were taking a more roundabout way back to the hotel. We'd just walked through a large piazza, which appeared to be the open-air evening entertainment spot for many more locals than visitors. We took a medium sized Venetian street/alley exit from the piazza en route for bed and rest before another busy day. It was very dark and you could just see the faint glow of lighting between shutters from residences on the second floor. And there it was, the clear, beautiful and immediately recognizable Piaf lyric.

    Il me dit des mots d´amour, Des mots de tous les jours, Et ca me fait quelque chose...

  • Aromas. Although not easily recreated for an online audience, some of the sensual aromas that fill our memories can be easily recreated in our kitchen, or simply by breathing in the bouquet of a fine glass of Chianti. However many of the aromas we recall from foreign lands are more elusive, like the fragrances in the tropical air from indigenous flora. My mother often says the aroma that was most prevalent in Singapore during our visit in 1975 was frangipane. But is her memory the same as mine ? Who is to know how an aroma is for another ? For me, I remember warm December nights , no breeze, the cacophony of chit chats as a soundtrack, and the comfort of family companions as we soak in the new delights of an exotic tropical land.

  • Tastes. Oh so many to savour. The taste of a pint of Theakstons XB. I was visiting cousin Pete in London with Suzanne. We'd had a few by the river in Richmond, surrounded by people quitting work early and tipping a few pints. We took a short black cab ride up the hill to one of Pete's faves - The Roebuck. We grabbed our pints and casually walked across the road to take in the view of the Thames. It looked with a scene from a Turner painting. The XB was a perfect temperature, still, and with the rich balance of bitterness and a touch of sweetness was liquid heaven. It went down smooth and had me asking for another. More importantly I left a wonderful memory of England, as it should be, with an amber pint of the good stuff in your hand. I think I've had a Theakston's since then, but it will never be the same feeling as that day. Maybe it's the combination of senses that is the essential factor of the moment, not just any one sensual memory ?

  • Touch. I love the feeling of sand between my toes and one of the beaches that I have clearest memories of is at The Coral Reef Club in Barbados. Suzanne and I had stayed there on our honeymoon and then returned for our 10th anniversary in 2001. The casual walk along the beach as the thinning waves tickle your feet is just the thing to wipe away thoughts of business deadlines and big city nonsense. That feeling of alternating damp and hot sand and warm salty water is one I want to remember forever and hopefully feel again. I remember we packed a bottle of 1997 Monsanto Chianti Classico and after another day in paradise we set up on the beach for the sunset. The feeling of nestling that bottle in the sand and the pressure of the chaise lounge on your slightly burnt back and a rock glass in your hand with traces of sand on its bottom (not to mention the sumptuous taste and bouquet of the wine), Simply wonderful.

  • Sites. Quite difficult to pick just one, but one of nature's most glorious sites and one of my favorite places in the world is Whistler. The first time I had the pleasure of skiing in Whistler was in 1989. I remember taking the Village Gondola up Whistler Mountain which actually delivered me to the Roundhouse. From there you get your first glimpse of the true peak and the threat of the high alpine. And from the top, looking across the vast expanse of mountain range is one of those times when you truly get a sense of how small you are and how powerful nature can be. Breathtaking. However, this is the hardest sense to recreate, even with beautiful photography or the latest in high def film, the view is not the same from behind a lens.
I'm contemplating writing down the clearest and fondest of memories and trying to capture the sensual experiences of those events. Just writing these down today has taken me around the world and brought back so many wonderful feelings. Perhaps I can venture past capturing old feelings to conjuring new ones.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The passion of football

Most people in the world get it and a lot of sports fans in North America don't.

Football. Futbol. Soccer.

Some of you may not know but the world under-20 World Cup is happening here in Toronto right now. Combine that with the local excitement of having the new MLS Toronto FC here in town and the recent Copa America, there is no shortage of football to see right now.

You can get a good appreciation for the level of support simply by listening to the commentary. On one side, you have the crazed passions of Latin American commentators we get to enjoy on some of our local Italian and Spanish language TV - GOL GOL GOL ! Then on the other hand, the very dull commentary of CBC coverage of the U-20's. And somewhere in between, the childlike enthusiasm of MLS commentators. As the MLS season continues, the U-20's wrap up on Sunday, the English Premiere League is just around the corner - olé - olé olé olé.

Football is one of those games that is appreciated by amateur players of the game, but stands above every other sport in the world because of it's global and universal appeal, it's simplicity and its rich local and national legacies.

However, those passions can sometimes get a little overheated. Case in point - last night's U-20 semi final. Not only was it a hotly contested Latin rivalry, but player tempers boiled over way after game time - see Chilean soccer team involved in melee with police. But as many people would agree, the importance of football to many young people in the world may be understandable. Similar to African American basketball players in the US, football players in Latin American see football as a way to escape their underprivileged communities and make a living (for themselves and family) by playing the game they love. It's not an easy path to the top and when something rightly or wrongly stands in their way to fame and fortune, attitudes get predictably skewed.

I've been lucky to see some great football of late, including a couple of exciting Toronto FC games plus the U-20 Quarter final game between the US and Austria. Plus a small bonus the other day as we had to rearrange our ultimate field because the Argentina U-20's boys were knocking it around next to us. Subbing in now and again and playing a little over the winter keeps my footy skills in tune and I'm only a few breaths away from diving in a coaching my son again. It's fair to say, football is quite a big part of my life.

I've often tried to explain the intensity of the sport to North Americans. I ask if they could picture one sport that combines the legacies, fan support and history across the NBA, NHL, NFL and major league baseball. Imagine the rivalries and intensity with the Chicago Cubs, Toronto Maple Leafs, Dallas Cowboys and Boston Red Sox in one sport !

And coming back around, this passion for football is what makes it a great spectacle. Perhaps you're not at the point of civil riot, but I'm sure little kid's ears are often covered when England loses on penalty kicks. Add in the memories of kids pretending to be Bobby Moore and Pele and now Beckham, kicking it around in the back yard; being in full voice supporting your local squad; coming home bruised and muddy after a "friendly recreational game"; or coaching kids who really want to improve their game - there are lots of reasons for the passion of the game.

If it was just passion and simplicity and global appeal, then maybe wrestling would be a substitute for football. However, the physical elements and game strategy do make it a great sport. You just try and chest down a high cross to your right foot, move it over to your left and strike for goal with a neanderthal defender breathing down your neck. Or more impressively, stand your ground to an advancing bull, aka Wayne Rooney. The game is one of ebb and flow, taking risky chances, brave sliding or aerial challenges, thunder strikes or ballet-like touches and stamina.

I liked the game as a youngster, appreciated the game playing against strong opponents and now love it for all of the above reasons and more.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Handling life's disappointments

Big or small, the disappointments that hit us on a regular basis can disrupt an otherwise perfect day or put you in the dumps for a few days. Whether it's a stray tee shot, your soccer team's dismal performance, losing the deal, or scheduling and priority changes that steal away your precious little personal plans - all disappointments have a way of lingering too long and distracting us from positive things that are happening around us all the time.

Wise advice is often "don't worry about it, it's not that important". But if it wasn't important, then we wouldn't be so disappointed would we ? Are they saying we shouldn't get excited about the prospects of good things happening, overcoming challenges or maximizing what life has to offer, just in case they don't turn out ?

Maybe for some of us, our expectations are too high ? Of we fill our lives with too many dreams and plans, rather than appreciating what we already have ?

I think this is just another aspect of balance in one's life. The balance between: moving forward, enriching your life, or the life of others around you; versus enjoying the journey and getting the most of what you have now; and avoiding living too much in the past and reminiscing of great times past.

Time to check the life scale again. After all, I am a Libra.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Tell me it isn't so

Very bad news, hot off the press...

AllOfMP3 Shut Down by Russian Government

Aah, but my account is still active on, thanks for the tip TorrentFreak. It's the same owner of with same backend, so apologies in advance lads if you still can't make a payment.

I'm back, looking for new Editors tracks.

Tell me it isn't so

Very bad news, hot off the press...

AllOfMP3 Shut Down by Russian Government

Aah, but my account is still active on, thanks for the tip TorrentFreak. It's the same owner of with same backend, so apologies in advance lads if you still can't make a payment.

I'm back, looking for new Editors tracks.