Tuesday, October 27, 2009

U2 360∘

Last month, I had the pleasure of seeing U2's 360∘ tour.

If you haven't read about my experience, you can read about it here.

If you haven't seen U2 live and that doesn't make you want to see U2 (with the understanding that you don't dislike U2), perhaps seeing the video of the Rose Bowl concert they broadcast live on youtube on Sunday night will convince you that U2 is an act not to be missed.

You can still view the concert at www.youtube.com/u2

A few weeks ago, Sympatico featured the 10 bands that you must see before you die.

U2 is the only band on that list that I have seen.

This week it was announced that U2 was returning to Toronto next July (along with Vancouver and Edmonton).

Tickets for those with a paid subscription to U2.com went on sale today (sorry for not posting sooner - I had meant to look it up, but didn't manage to soon enough). Tickets for the general public go on sale on Monday November 2. There is also a U2 bundle that goes on sale on October 29th.

For details, you can visit www.ticketmaster.ca

Monday, October 26, 2009

Confusing lessons from Monday dinner night

You'll like this one guys.  Ladies, maybe you can explain it.

With the chaotic lives we live, I believe a little bit of a routine is a good thing.  I suggested to my wife this year that I would be happy to cook on Friday, Saturday and Monday nights.  I've been trying to uphold this new household tradition as best I can and my wife has been quite supportive although perhaps not enthusiastic about the regimen. 

My wife was kind enough to do the groceries today and she mentioned a few dinner choices as I was on my way home from work.  I like Italian food and I really like gnocchi, so I was pretty happy to hear it was one of the base ingredients for the potential Monday night menu.  Even better, my wife found a wonderful recipe in a Jamie Oliver book for mushroom and sage gnocchi.

The recipe was quite straight forward and very tasty and wholesome.  My wife made a few comments about the roughly torn pieces of sage and had a bit of a fit with a overly aggressive piece of garlic, but on the whole seemed to enjoy the meal.

I commented afterward about how I loved the meal and perhaps we could add it to our family menu and perhaps cook it for friends.  At which point she informed me she doesn't like sage.  I ask why she picked the recipe and she says she thought I'd like it.

The mysteries of the female reasoning and logic process continue to amaze and entertain.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Time for comments on time

I'm up quite early on this Sunday morning, but know that the opportunity to write a few words will quickly escape.  It's not that I have such a busy work life or have children with demanding social and sports schedules or that I'm a conscientious home owner constantly maintaining my old home.  Ok, it's partly because I have a puppy at home (6 months today).  It's really because I choose to spend my free time on other things at the moment.  Last night I did have some time, but I was rather tired from quite a busy day and didn't really have the concentration required to contribute anything meaningful to this blog.  I was going to watch a movie, but couldn't find something that would potentially hold my attention for a couple of hours.  I ended up watching a 30 min travel show on HDNet and then going to bed early to start reading The Last Lecture (written by Randy Pausch, out from the library and quickly read by my wife and a book I've heard lots of good things about).

Interruption - Kooper steals coffee traveler lid - I need to take him for a walk...

Most of my free time these days is spent on photography.  I've always been a keen photographer, but with the latest digital photography advancements, I'm finding that I take a lot of photos, spending a lot of time fine tuning the images and sharing them online.  I'm very pleased with the results I'm getting and feel it's my true artistic calling.  I actually described myself as a semi-pro this week.  Well, I did this as I was asking for a photo pass for Friday night's concert.  Well, semi-pro isn't too far of a stretch when I do hope to make a little money with my photography some day and I'm getting quite a few photos published on various sites these days.  BlogTO have now used 5 of my photos and a few shots from this week have been posted to Skyscrapercity's forum.  I've even had one photo picked up by a cricket site.  Like all photographers, I'm constantly learning as a take 100's of photos a week and really appreciate all the comments I get on Flickr - I'm actually closing in on 10,000 photo views !  Just updated my favourites.

To maximize my time, I do try to do two (or more) things at once.  For instance, I've been writing this while "watching" the Liverpool ManU game - however, with with the sound off (Suz has music on) I'm actually missing what appears to be a gripping game (Liverpool just scored, gotta watch now). Actually there are of course a few no-brainer things you can do simultaneously like doing the dishes or flossing while watching TV or doing almost anything while listening to music.  But some things are almost impossible, like trying to take photographs while walking your dog or doing anything when your wife is trying to have a conversation.

On a related subject, wondering...do people wait for stuff any more ? It seems we don't have a lot of waiting time these days and consequently less golden opportunities to make the most of this forced down time and catch up on something.  The only concrete example I can think of when almost everyone still waits for something is at the airport.  Now there's a good time to catch up on your reading, photo editing, blogging or calling an old friend.

From another angle, if you're neglecting your relationships or find yourself talking to yourself more and more, there's nothing better than doing stuff with someone else.  Perfect examples for me are concerts (with my wife and friends), playing video games (with my son), doing some photography (with my daughter), going on a walk (with my mom) or playing golf (with my Dad, my son and my friends). For us blokes, these shared activities address most of people needs.  We're pretty happy fellas if we've got a bud to hang with.  However, the gentler sex  appear to require more dedicated talk time.  Unfortunately with the personal choices we all have these days, there seem to be fewer activities truly shared by friends, spouses or family and more "alone quality time".  But as we've recently added the dog to the family, I now have the proverbial man's best friend, a loyal, eager, non discriminating companion.  If only he understood the genius of Quentin Tarantino.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Temper Trap at the Horseshoe Tavern

Last night, The Horseshoe Tavern served up a gem.

The Temper Trap who played at the Glastonbury festival this past summer, who are currently on the A-List playlist on Absolute Radio UK (meaning they get played a LOT) and who will be performing on Jimmy Kimmel on Thursday night played at a free gig at The Horseshoe Tavern for The Edge 102.1 Dave Bookman's Nu Music Nite.

The Horseshoe Tavern is one of the few good venues in Toronto who allow any kind of camera (without a photo pass), so with the D-SLR in hand, we managed to get some great shots.
I only found out about The Temper Trap during the last week. I downloaded some of their songs on Sunday. On Monday, I found out they were playing in Toronto the next night. Normally for me to love a concert, it helps if I know the songs really well but The Temper Trap are amazing live whether you know their music or not.

They are energetic and get the crowd into their music as you can see from these videos.

Here's the set list:

I look forward to seeing them when they are headlining. It's like we have seen them from their early days and there can only be great days ahead for them.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Concert announcements catching my eye - Oct 09

Browsing NOW magazine and a few concerts caught my eye that are not "hot" tickets per se, but are for bands whose music I like, the venue seems a good fit and I'd probably go if I had unlimited budget and lots of free evenings:
  • Matisyahu - Phoenix, Nov 30th - Acidic Jewish hip hop - yes, you read that right
  • Nitzer Ebb - Mod Club, Dec 1 - yes, das man ist bak (of Murderous fame)
  • Devendra Banhard, Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Nov 27th - haven't heard much, but Seahorse from a few years back was brilliant - psych retro at it's best
  • Junior Boys - Lee's, Nov 6th - Hamilton Ontario amooth stylers
  • Bill Bragg, Tues Nov 7th - a few mates going, working class hero always has a lot to say
  • Sloan - Dakota Tavern Oct 19th War Child benefit and photo exhibit - good reasons to see a good rock band
  • The XX - Mod Club Dec 2nd - worldwide tour date for alt chart toppers with lots of rave reviews, love their complex mellow sound
  • Metric - Massey Hall Oct 20th and 21st - sold out, but likely worth scalper tickets, one of Canada's best alternative bands
And a couple that I'm going to:
  • Thievery Corporation - Kool Haus Oct 23rd - smooth grooves, complex urban sounds and exotic vocal varieties, I saw them at the front side of the tour in the Spring and it was a highlight of the year, expecting similar set list enhanced by better looking date
  • Champion - Mod Club Nov 27th - great band, better performers, best venue in the city, $15 tickets - no brainer

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day - Climate Change


I truly believe we have a big problem on our hands - global climate change.  I think it is everyone's problem, from Western governments to the Third World to you and me.  Although  I'm not an expert on how to solve the problem, I'm aware of it and consciously (or subconsciously) try to do my small part every day.

  • I take the subway to my downtown office
  • I prefer to take the subway when going out in the evenings and weekends
  • I often walk to customer meetings
  • I often ride my bike to locations within a couple of miles of home
  • I bring my own shopping bags to the store
  • I prefer not to use air conditioning
  • I collect items for safe disposal on city environmental days
  • I donate old clothes and household items to charities rather than throwing them out
  • I use refillable water containers
  • Under the right political circumstances, I think voting for the Green Party can make a statement

You could perhaps look at the following a few different ways (e.g. over packaging= clutter=waste/additional recycling, waste versus energy to recharge/recycle) , but I'll list them anyway:

  • I don't mow or water my lawn very often
  • I prefer to use cloth napkins rather than paper
  • I try to be as paperless as possible and use the computer for reading and note taking
  • I use rechargeable batteries
  • I buy digital music rather than CD's
  • I use CFL light bulbs in many parts of the home
 Make Green part of your everyday
Many little things from everyone can add up to a lot !

Polar bear side story: There are around 20,000 polar bears in the wild. However, scientists predict that, if current warming trends continue in the Arctic, two-thirds of the world's polar bears could disappear by 2050. Read more at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1218255/The-polar-bear-invited-dinner.html#ixzz0U1ZcQXNt

Monday, October 12, 2009

Where I find new music: Part 1 - the personal recommendation

When someone personally recommends music to me, if I don't know the artist or track, I'll make sure to make a note (Blackberry Note usually).  If we have guests at home, most music fans aren't shy (as there's always music playing in our home and I'm always interested in hearing new music) and making a suggestion on the spot and having me sample (iTunes or TouTube) it right there and then.  If I like the song right away, I'll often download it on the fly and if the mood fits, we'll be listening to the new track minutes later.  Likewise when I'm visiting other music fans, they'll often put on music for me that they think I'll like.  I'm sure many people would possibly feel this is inappropriate for a dinner party of other social occasion.  But on the contrary, the chance to hear and talk about new music is one of the big reasons music fans spend time with one another rather than just sitting at home with their own music collection.  However, we still perhaps feel it's more acceptable to host a dinner party and you just happen to play some new music rather than inviting people over for the simply listening to music together.  That we be kind of odd, like something teenagers would do.  Like I used to do.

Case in point.  We visited my sister-in-law and her family the other night, and her husband (RSc) is a huge music fan (old school CD buyer)  He recommended a band called The Clientele and lent me their new CD.  I sampled the CD the next day, imported it into iTunes, categorized and rated the tracks and now enjoying some lovely mellow psychedelic new tunes.  Solid warm album, perfect for quiet mornings.  Thanks RSc.

Looking forward to more recommendations from my network of music fans, including my partner in crime Suze20TO, Dogtown's Eco and KS, Riverdale's RSc and SR, DC's RSe and CS, Uptown and Serbia's NF, Oakville's SHa, Ottawa's TE and Victoria's SHu.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Blog stuffer #1 - PJMixer's October top picks

Tools of the Trade
Dump of stuff I'm listening to these past few weeks.
  • Jamie T - new album is simply fantastic, poetic rhymes with irresistible beats, could be album of the year; pjtrack: Sticks 'n' Stones
  • Cage the Elephant - solid rock licks, on-the-mark recommendation from SHa; pjtrack: In One Ear
  • Florence and the Machine - strong vocals from the gentler sex and lotsa layers of sound and harmonies; pjtrack: Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)
  • Arctic Monkeys - not solid all the way through, but some standouts, especially a couple of the ballads; pjtrack: Cornerstone
  • Kasabian - two brilliant singles vying for top honours in my books plus a wrath of pure winners on this stellar album; pjtrack: Fire
  • The XX - male/female duet with moody back tones, wonderful late night listening, spot-on recommendation from RSc; pjtrack: Crystalised
  • Thievery Corporation - this has been out for a while, but as I have tickets to see them for the 2nd time this year, the album is still in constant rotation fantastic grooves with tons of vocal talents; pjtrack: The Numbers Game
  • K'Naan - I keep finding more and more fantastic lyrics in this superb album from local African/Canadian rapper; pjtrack: Take a Minute
  • Dizzee Rascal - sing-a-long Brit rapper w/ some fantastic dance club beats; pjtrack: Dance Wiv Me
  • Champion - simpler rock sounds for sophomore release, but those hard driving guitar and Max's direction and groove sounds combine on many great tracks, perfect appertizer for another live gig in a few weeks; pjtrack: Resistance (Skool)