Some warm weather notwithstanding, it's too early to plant in St. John's - but it's certainly OK to check out the garden centres and pick out things for the week ahead. I find the colours reviving enough for now!
I've been hearing this tune on one of the SiriusXM channels we get in the car, by the Brooklyn-based Phosphorescent, which sounds like a band, but is more or less Matthew Houck. The latest Phosphorescent album, Muchacho, was released last month; this performance is from Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
There's an interesting new set of videos that the Newfoundland and Labrador tourism campaign has released, and they're a bit different from the ones we've typically seen over the last few years. These play on the theme of language, and underscore how words and conversation set us apart from, well, other places that people can visit.
It's not often that a backup singer can arrange the release of a record, but when the backup singer is Mick Jaggger, well, stuff happens. Peter Tosh covered the Temptations' Don't Look Back and enlisted Jagger for the 1978 release, which came out on Rolling Stones Records. I never understood why it wasn't a bigger hit.
This is a shot I sent to Instagram last Monday night, while I was walking as the night was falling. I was attracted to how the dark blue in the sky was gradually turning black.
I took the photo along Military Road, near Government House, as I was heading to Bannerman Park to meet up with Nick's Scout group as they finished an "urban hike" around the neighbourhood. It was a great evening for it.
Some collaborations take you by surprise, and others seem perfectly logical. This is definitely one of the latter: Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris teaming up for This Is Us. From about five years ago, here they on the David Letterman show.
We saw the Leonard Cohen concert last night. It was an amazing experience; it lasted more than three and a half hours, with one encore after another.
Cohen and his band sang almost every song I could have wanted to hear, and in a night of highlights, this was one of them: Sharon Robinson singing one of the songs she co-wrote with Cohen, Alexandra Leaving. What a voice!
This has been the book that's been by my bedside since I received it as a Christmas gift. I've started and finished several others during that time (and still have a pile of books that are in one state or another of being partly read), but I chipped away at this book fairly steadily during that time, and I loved the whole thing.
Hello Goodbye Hello is a curious book by British columnist Craig Brown, who must be a savant for biographies. The idea of the book is clever: each chapter is about a meeting between two famous persons. In the next chapter, Person B of the preceding chapter meets Person C, who goes on in the next chapter to meet D, and so on.
There are 101 chapters in the book, which makes it well suited for a bedtime read. Each chapter, as it turns out, is precisely 1,001 words in length (math nerds will thus love that the word count for the whole of the book is 101,101.)
The stories are terrific, and telling; Groucho Marx and T.S. Eliot try to impress one another with, respectively, their knowledge of Shakespeare and the Marx Brothers. I recounted for my mother how Peter Tchaikovsky did much to boost the career of a teenage Sergei Rachmaninoff. I read the chapter about the bitter feud that P.L. Travers waged against Walt Disney not long before I saw production photos for Saving Mr. Banks, the upcoming film starring Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks as those very people about that very subject.
Of course, now that I'm finished, I'm certainly not lacking for reading options, but I will miss having the kind of book that I found so enjoyable to dip into over the last few months.
When I was a teenager, Carl Sagan was cool ... well, at least as cool as a scientist could be. Cosmos was a best-seller, he was a fixture on PBS, and he helped make the science behind the science fiction of the day comprehensible.
This is a cool animation based on remarks that Sagan made after seeing a photograph taken from the Voyager 1 probe.
Last summer, while the three of us were moseying around various parts of the province, we had a nice break in Corner Brook. One of the new additions to the city is a monument to Al Pittman, the late poet and author of plays like West Moon and children's books like Down By Jim Long's Stage.
It's a lovely monument, and a labour of considerable and obvious love by his good friend, Gerry Squires. [Read more about its unveiling last year here.] The monument can be seen in a small park downtown, and quite near the offices of the Western Star, where Al worked for many years.
Here's the full length of a BBC 4 documentary on Nile Rodgers, the guitarist who helped found Chic and then went on to produce all kinds of things, some of them huge top 40 hits. It's remarkable to see the lineup of interviewees in this doc, from collaborators like Bryan Ferry (there was definitely a mutual admiration society between them) to fans like Debbie Harry and Johnny Marr. The "hitmaker," incidentally, is the nickname of Rodgers' guitar.
There's plenty of tidbits for music fans, including confirmation (for me, anyway) that Le Freak had started off with a title that can't be said in polite company. (That will be your language advisory, too, by the way.)
[This is the text of Surf’s Up column, published in the St. John's Telegram on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013. I have a lot of catching up to do!]
It’s funny how the economics of photography has changed. About three decades ago, I would watch my spending to muster the $20 I needed to get a roll of 35mm film developed at the Sooter’s outlet near my house. I ordered doubles for an extra buck, and always knew I had to be careful with every frame I shot.
Nowadays, Sooter’s is a long-ago memory, I haven’t shot actual film in years, I rarely get prints made at all, and I take more pictures than ever, on various devices.
The habit of not making prints is not a good one, I realize. I’m trying to get better at making printed records of our lives, loved ones, friends and travels. We’ve also noticed that our photo albums, so full of images of the not-that-long-ago, have scarcely anything from the last few years!
I’ve become enamored of a tool I tried out, which delivered results that happily exceeded my expectations.
The first thing you need to know about Prinstagram – surprise! – is that you already have be an Instagram user. This will obviously eliminate many people from the list of potential clients, but those that use the photo-filter-and-sharing app should draw closer. Prinstagram makes it easy, almost too easy, to get a bunch of prints made, with specialty products.
I ordered a couple of dozen prints (four inches by four inches) of some of my favourite shots, for us at home, and for family members. They arrived with days (from a plant in Taiwan, I might note) on heavyweight paper with excellent colour reproduction, suitable for framing.
I also ordered stickers that we intend to use in the future for invitations, marking possessions and (really thinking ahead) next season’s Christmas cards. They are unique, and drenched in colour.
I also ordered a poster made up of preferred shots, and the plan is to frame that for my home office.
The prices are reasonable; a set of 24 pictures is $12. The shipping, though, looks formidable - $15 (to anywhere, mind you), which seems like a lot, although it’s a flat rate, which becomes more sensible when you order several products at once things.
The best bit: I received my photos and stickers a few days after I ordered them. That’s pretty decent.
There are other services in the same field, including PostalPix, which I will be trying out. I’ll keep you abreast.
There’s a growing body of research that is focused solely on social media and whether our digital chatter reflects genuine swings in public opinion, intention or influence. (Case in point: November’s U.S. presidential election.) This is a different sort of index. It measures what people are saying on Twitter about the movies nominated for Best Picture, and more particularly, how those comments can be perceived in terms of being positive or negative. Read the background first as you peruse the chart, which is updated regularly. For what it’s worth, Silver Linings Playbook has a digital edge over the critical favourite, Lincoln.
Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal, creator of countless infographic cartoons and author of bestsellers (cf. How To Tell if Your Cat Is Trying To Kill You), turns his attention to where things currently stand in the digital universe. It’s like reading a digest from cNet or Mashable, except it’s illustrated, and funny.
Snow Day Soduku iTunes If the prospect of spending a winter's evening picking out numerals on a plain old puzzle board seems dull, try this app that is perfect for the season. It may seem a little Christmassy, but the falling snow got me in the right mood on one relaxed wintry evening last week.
Absinthe rocked the world of Paris a century or so ago, with such pervasive and controversial force that it was called the "green fairy." You can see a famous 1890s painting of said fairy, and much else about the liquor that's been enjoying a reconstituted revival, via this link.
I learned this morning that Steve Martin and Edie Brickell have collaborated on an album that will be released later this month on Rounder Records. Love Has Come For You is focused on banjo and music supplied by Martin, and lyrics and vocals supplied by Brickell.
The other surprise: it's not, evidently, bluegrass, which has been one of the non-comic obsessions of Martin for many years.
There's more to be learned from this publicity video, which features scenes from the shoot for the album cover.
The above image was the announcement Ellen DeGeneres made (obviousy with Disney's blessing) this week about the coming sequel to Finding Nemo. Finding Dory will pick up the story of the blue fish with the terrible memory, and evidently will be centered on the waters off California.
Finding Nemo is a movie I've seen countless times. We took our son to it when he was a preschooler, and the subsequent DVD played well over once or twice. The themes of parenting must have resonated too. Plus, those seagulls!
I'm not at all surprised that Pixar is reaching into libraries for sequels (Monsters U. is up next), but the one I want to see the most remains nothing more than good wishes.
The Incredibles, from 2004, is the Pixar movie that really knocked my socks off. I loved the story, I liked seeing how the movie dealt with the contentious themes of encouraging kids to excel rather than merely participate, I loved how it made a meal out of the imagery and ideas of the Silver Age of comics, and I thought so much of Michael Giacchino's score that I bought the soundtrack.
The writer and director, Brad Bird, has mused about putting together a sequel, but nothing has happened yet. Bird has been preoccupied with other things, like the last Mission: Impossible movie and the forthcoming sci-fi movie Tomorrowland, which may or may not have a lot to do with the Disney theme park of the same name, but which will be shooting in Vancouver later this year with the likes of George Clooney and Hugh Laurie.
So, no Dash, Violet or Jack-Jack (the baby who, a subsequent short later showed, has firemonster powers) for the time being. Fingers, though, remain crossed.
Mick Jones was to my eyes and especially ears the most interesting member of the Clash, and I've found his career afterwards fascinating (if sometimes a little disappointing). Carbon/Silicon, his ongoing project with Tony James, has a brand-new single, and here it is. The video features ordinary people in London holding up the song's lyrics and keeping the tune moving along.
"Thank you," it opened, as he thanked his readers for what they gave him over the years.
I came to know Roger Ebert and his thumb-giving colleague Gene Siskel through the PBS show Sneak Previews, which was such an eye-opener to the teenage movie buff that I was in the late Seventies. I devoured magazine reviews of movies (anything I could find at home or at the library by Judith Crist or Richard Corliss and later Pauline Kael), but I loved watching Ebert and later reading his books and columns. He had popular tastes, but he had a wonderful way of shining a light on movies that needed the boost. No doubt many of the obituaries to be written in the next few hours will focus on the profound influence he had on independent and foreign titles, some being able to find distributors and audiences because of his words. That was one mighty thumb.
Dot Dot Dot is Morse code for the letter 'S,' the full message Guglielmo Marconi claimed to have received atop Signal Hill in St. John's in 1901. It ushered in the age of telecommunications. My maternal grandfather worked as a telegraph operator for Canadian Marconi on Signal Hill for many years.
As well, I have a habit of overusing the ellipsis when I write ... as frequent readers might notice.