Pink Floyd

By Pink Floyd I have Piper At The Gates Of Dawn 1967, Saucer Full Of Secrets 1968, Ummagumma 1969, Atom Heart Mother 1970, Live 1970, Meddle 1971, Live at Pompeii 1972, Dark Side of the Moon 1973, Wish You Were Here 1975, Animals 1977, The Wall 1979, Delicate Sound of Thunder 1988, The Division Bell 1994, Pulse 1995. And Return to the Dark Side of the Moon a tribute lp (2006). Some as stand-alones, others as mp3.

Ummagumma, Atom Heart Mother & Meddle are perhaps my favourites. Their first two lps were trippy pop songs, radio stuff but in those next three they they became experimental, stretching the notion of what rock pop could be. The mp3 of Atom Heart contains the full tracks, the lp had some of edited down to fit the limits of vinyl. I loved the choral work on it. The band owed more to Booker T & the MJs than was recognized at the time. Electronic groups like Underworld owe a debt of gratitude to Meddle.

Dark Side was their return to more ‘tradition’ song form & length & it was a stunning success. The Wall hit the right rebellious notes but I wasn’t that big a fan. The many live releases are excellent but they seem intent on reproducing studio work than expanding & exploring it. If you are unfamiliar with Pink Floyd I suggest you crawl out of your cave lol.

Mixed in with the mp3 collections are: Procol Harum: Home 1970 – they leave their organ based sound to embark on blistering guitar work; King Crimson: Starless & Bible Black 1974  – this is true progrock with amazing freeform – almost jazz like sonic explorations. Then the US band Formerly Anthrax: Show Of Hands 1970 – I had this sweet lp & eventually replaced it with mp3 – organ based pop. They are not to be confused with the British group Show Of Hands. I have a ‘hits’ compilation by them – Backlog 87-91. A version of Traffic. A band I only found searching for Formerly Anthrax 🙂

Give Me A Little Sign

<>

a bluejay feather dances over snow 

the first full moon of the new year

a silent wrap of smoke

forms the letters of a name

whose name   mine   yours 

our hopes for the future

a dangling curtain moving at dawn

a pale   handless shape

peers out into the fog

before the fire burns pure ashes 

to scatter sooty on the snow

for the next fitful omen

<>

a bus pulls up at the right moment

an old friend alive

where you least expected to see them

the number nine keeps popping up

how many times before it has meaning

like that bluejay feather 

it has to have a meaning

a good moment to do something

but I don’t know where to begin

play the lottery  submit that manuscript

make that phone call I’ve been putting off

<>

should I act blindly

or bide my time for a better opportunity

a voice in an empty room

a phone call that goes unanswered 

was that wrong number the right one

where are my lucky shoes

what do the stars have to say

<>

entrails of run over squirrel tell me 

it isn’t wise to dash across a busy street

grounds in the bottom of my Tim’s cup

tell me it’s time 

they cleaned that damn machine

that look in your eyes tells me 

it’s time to drop my guard

<>

will our clothes piled on the floor

the fold of pants legs and t-shirts

twined accidentally in the dark

be a sign of more than pleasure to be had

is there a message 

in the goosebumps on your back

in the fevered breath on my thigh

can I let a kiss be a kiss 

not the next fitful omen

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Gunn Mann

Soundtrack composers are easy to dismiss for the mass appeal of their work – populist & therefore shallow. Henry Mancini is one such composer. The range of his musical ability is staggering when one looks at the span of his career. Academy awards only testify to the popularity of his work not of its quality.

Also with time, even his timeless pieces have taken on a sort of nostalgic campy quality. A song like Moon River seems quaint. I have always loved his music for Peter Gunn & have the original TV soundtrack. When you get past the Arch of the Cue Balls you have a fine, state-of-the-jazz art album that can stand with anything by, say, Horace Silver.  Quincy Jones Plays Mancini is a great set of covers. I love Baby Elephant Walk.

I guess I am a Herbie Mann fan, at least of his work up to the mid-70’s. The first Herbie Mann I heard was Push Push way back in 1971. I loved it & the use of harp in jazz was a revelation. I had that lp & replaced it with the cd. I found the double lp Evolution of Mann remaindered at Zellers & it covered the earlier part of his career, eventually I did the conversion from lp to cd. Stone Flute, & Gagaka I also had as lps at one time & both are stunning sets.

As mp3 I have by Herbie Mann:  Flute Flight 1957, Flute Soufflé 1957, Do The Bossanova 1962, The Complete Latin Band Sessions w Chick Corea 1965, Impressions of the Middle East 1966, Gagaku & Beyond 1976, Two Amigos 1990 w Dave Valentine, Beyond Brooklyn 2004 w Phil Woods. Stand-alones: lp to cd transfer of Evolution of Mann: a sort of hits collection; Stone Flute 1969 meditative with strings includes stunning take on The Beatles ‘Flying’, Push Push 1971 w Duane Allman Gene Bianca on harp. 

Mann was a world music fan before it was on trend. He explored Latin, Japanese, Northern Africa music with musicians from those areas. He steeped himself  in the sound & sensibility & co-created memorable music. I love the Gagaku work. Where to start? I’d go with Push Push. Don’t let his hairy shoulders put you off.

Rounding out the Mann mp3 cd compilations are: Wes Montgomery: Fingerpickin’, Moving’ Along. Early work by Wes with his trademark fluid jazz guitar. Stanley Jordan: Magic Touch – modelled after Wes, another deft guitarist. Art Pepper: The Trip – excellent sax with more of a hard bop edge. Some mid 50’s sleaze adventures, where you feel the tassels twirling around your nose as you listen: Strip Tease 50’s Classics: by the likes of Dave Rose, Sonny Lester – songs like Strip Poker, The Stripper; Buddy Bregman: Swinging Kicks. Burlesque A Go-Go: various rock-a-billy for peelers.

Perhaps the ultimate Bond soundtrack by John Barry: Goldfinger. Shirley Bassey delivers the best Bond title song of all time. Finally as a break from all that:  Don Slepian: Electronic Music From The Rainbow Isle – a moog, computer music pioneer; Szatvari Csaba: Galilei’s Nightmare – new ageish sound textures.

Take The Plunge

the room was full

maple leaves sumac oak

aspen poplar beech

more leaves than the eye could see

could gave names to

rose lilac no flowers just leaves

stacked

each one tagged 

ready to be discarded

<>

leaves fluttering chafing rustling

at each breath I took

whispering to each other

that I was there

shuddering 

at the sight of my rake

they feared the rake

<>

the brown big bag behind my back

wasn’t going to hold them all

I’d need more bags

more rakes

<>

the leaves trembled in anticipation

to be stuffed crammed

longing to be taken outdoors

to become compost

for future leaves

<>

I didn’t know where to begin

were there stairs

the house was crammed

floor to ceiling

nothing could be seen

leaves crumbling 

stumbling 

over one another

more arrived every minute

squeezing though cracks in the wall

down the chimney

<> 

it was an endless task

I began raking 

pulling them from under chairs

bag after bag

line the curb

yet the house never emptied

all around me 

the swirl of leaves

green red black pointed waxy

I couldn’t get down the stairs

my rake was useless

they no longer had fear

no bags left and there were more

<>

catalpa palm smoke tree

I climbed out to the porch roof

the street was an ocean

the bags I had tenderly packed

had all broken open

children where running and playing

diving through the leaves

never touching the ground

unaware of the dangers

beneath the glorious tempest of leaves

<>

I took the plunge

(2008)

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Piaf Pink

Some voices sound real, not studio manipulated for emotional resonance. One of the realest voices is that of Édith Piaf (1915-1963). You don’t need to understand French to feel the emotion in her Ne Me Quitte Pas. In my collection I have as mp3: Absolutely (a hits collection), Live in Carnegie Hall 1957, Recital 1960 (at Olympia a comeback following a two-year illness) lp to cd transfer, Mon Legionnaire (another hits collection) a stand-alone & the La Vie en Rose Soundtrack.

She’s an acquired taste, like Yma Sumack, well worth developing. Her version of Le Marseilles gave me goose bumps. I’d love my memorial service to to start with her Je Ne Regrette Rien & as people leave, Ne Me Quitte Pas should be played. If you are unfamiliar any hits collection is a good starter.

Rounding out the mp3 collection is, naturally, Jacques Brel: Ces Gens-La, 1967, Ne Me Quitte Pas. More fine French melodrama with some unexpected production flourishes like an ondes martenot on some tracks. Tino Rossi: Vintage 2010 – a hits collection of similar vintage French, non-rock, pop. Liane Foly: Reve Orange, Lumieres – two sweet slightly jazzy adult pop albums; finally Barbra Streisand: Je M’Appelle Barbra (1966) – well-sung but not as melodramatic as Piaf or Rossi.

Piaf recorded under rather limited conditions whereas current vocals have an arsenal of studio gimmicks to amp up the emotion. But not all of them rely on that, though they may use them. Pink is one of those who doesn’t need them. I have as stand-alones: Can’t Take me Home 2000, Mizzunderstood 2001, Try This 2003, I’m Not Dead 2006 & Fun House 2008. I like the emotional rawness of her voice & the fact that, unlike Adele, she doesn’t feel the need to sing the shit out of very song. If you are unfamiliar with Pink, start with a hits collection & then hit the trapeze.

Smoking Gun

I have to confess

there seems no way around this

even though I’m not so clear on it myself

on what did happen

true I was there

I was not really paying attention

you know how the mind can wander

for a few brief seconds

I was wondering about the weather 

at a time like that

can you imagine

when there were such vital things going on

things that needed my full focus

suddenly I was preoccupied 

with the weather 

noting that it wasn’t as cold 

as it has been

that the chill yesterday was really something

I could hardly breath

and I was standing there 

with all this going around me

wishing I had a worn warmer coat yesterday 

not that the coat I have on now

isn’t warm enough

and wasn’t that cold

despite the wind factor

but I knew it was going to get worse 

the cold I mean

and well that’s why I’m not sure what went on

during those few seconds

yes I know how critical it is 

that I remember

I’ve told you everything that went on

but at as for those few moments

I can’t swear 

I can approximate 

it couldn’t have been that much different 

from what else was happening

it all happened so fast 

I didn’t have time to catch my breath 

let alone fix it in my mind

if I had known it would be so important

I would have been more attentive

one doesn’t make notes constantly

on every little event and circumstance

I didn’t even have time

to get out my cellphone

it was over before I could take picture

yes I feel bad about not being able 

to tell you more

in point of fact I’m merely a bystander

I had no obligation to be more attentive

we’re not watch guards 

of each other

if we were 

who would feel comfortable

everyone spying one each other

taking pictures of every moment

I’d never leave the house

I’m no criminal

the fact that I w as inattentive 

for a few brief moments

doesn’t make me one either

I’ve told you all I can

all I’m going to tell you

nothing can make me any clearer 

I did say I was there

I was looking

I didn’t see anything 

I didn’t look away 

I just drifted off

for those few moments

what did I miss

(2008)

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2021 Recap

Over the past year by TOpoet.ca following blog grew from 445 to 468! Doesn’t sound like much but I did a cull of followers who are no longer active on WordPress. The WordPress map show my hits have come from over 70 countries around the world. USA still tops the list but that China & Bangladesh are in the top 10 is a surprise. Nigeria in the top 20 – but behind Malawi! Kazakhstan! Still no hits from North Korea 😦 My Tumblr is at 346 followers. 229 Twitter followers.

My top ten posts of the year include 2 out of the archives! Born To Be Blown – from 2014 – https://topoet.ca/2014/01/24/born-to-be-blown/; & Sydney Academy 2 from 2019 https://topoet.ca/2019/08/12/sydney-academy-2/.

I made a few changes in my blogging routine to give me more time for actual writing 🙂 At the start of the pandemic blogging daily was an excellent way to get through the lockdown. Then it became work I had to keep up with & was no longer fun, so I cut way back.

In 2020 I did 322 posts; in 2021 I only 260 blog posts – of course having no live poetry readings or Stratford show to review reduced the quantity. Though on of the highlights of 21 was seeing Three Tall Women on stage in Stratford. Martha Henry’s tour de force final production.

Picture Perfect: Picture Perfect:  98 sections, about 142,000 words posted so far with approximately 45,000 to be edited then posted. I’ve been enjoying the slow process of edits & have made some major cuts in the final set of rough drafts. As usual my biggest issue is keeping names straight – what did I call that rcmp constable a hundred pages ago? I’m really enjoying creating the weekly graphic for each section. I do have an endless supply of frame & paintings that people have thrown out.

Like many people I’m weary of the pandemic, of people’s reactions, of the roller-coaster of restrictions, & now the paranoia. Is it allergies? A cold or covid? How ‘sick’ does one have to be to get tested? Who pays for it? By the time you get tested, have the results, early onset treatment is too late. How long before neo-citron markets a neo-covid hot lemon drink?

Highlights of the year: contributing a forward to Philip Cairns book Hollywood Poems; having some pieces of mine included in Pandemic Poetry. Extensive work on my garden. Deep house cleaning in a lock-down pandemic purge of the house top to bottom, in particular a basement full of stuff – some not touched since we moved into the house some 40 years ago. 

I did get used to zoom recovery meetings & now seriously doubt if I’ll go back to face-to-face. I do meet up with fellow recoveries for face-to-face conversations & sharing. Going up to my room for a zoom is much easier than getting ready an hour or so in advance to get there with the hope the TTC hasn’t shut down. 

What am I looking forward to in 2022? Good question. Travel out of the country is out of the question. Even for travel within Canada testing rules can change while I am landing so I might never get off the plane or end up living in a tent on the runway until I can get an appointment for the right test. But I am considering another week or so in Cape Breton if pandemic travel rules loosen up enough. Stratford has a tentative season with a couple of shows we’re interested in seeing but will it end up a repeat of last season’s open air productions?

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Peters and Pixies

By Swedish indie pop/rock band Peter, Bjorn and John I have stand-alone’s Writer’s Block (2006), Living Thing (2009). I read decent reviews of the band & having Swedish roots myself I felt it was time to nurture those roots with some music. There are many bands with a similar sound – wry lyrics, sweet melodies, song nicely with a solid, if gentle, rock beat. Think a slightly more rock, folk-rock Simon & Garfunkel. Two cds were enough to satisfy my roots.

The next on the shelf is Peter and Gordon: The Ultimate Collection. Tight harmonies, radio friendly songs & a direct line to The Beatles via Peter Asher’s sister Jane (who nearly married Paul McCartney). They had hits written by McCartney & charted too many songs to list here. The cd collection is a rich introduction to the British sound off the mid60’s. 

Though at the time they were regarded more as bubblegum than serious like, say, The Yardbirds, thanks in part to their often lush orchestral arraignments. The production work is still amazing on songs like A World Without Love & Woman. Once their moment passed Peter Asher went on to become one of the most influential music producers in California with several top of the charts lps by Linda Rondstadt, James Taylor, Cher.

Further along the shelf are Pixies who were critical darlings in the early 90’s. They influenced bands such as Nirvana & Radio head with their alt-rock sound that as a fun mix of surf, punk & experimental with surreal lyrics. I had as cassettes Doolittle & Bossanova – but, as all too often happened, both tapes stopped working. I eventually replaced them with a stand-alone best of compilation. 

Tracks from the first couple of lps often show up in movies, TV shows to quickly establish a character as a nerdy nonconformist who is more hip than the room. My favourite track is This Monkey Wants To Go To Heaven. Quirky fun music & worth tracking down if you want to be more hip than my blog 🙂

A Convenient Truth

it was the truth

at the time

I believed what I said

I believed your body told me

this would last forever 

but every moment comes to an end

<>

it all was so promising

the vast endless tract of future before us

hand in hand

heart to head

pushed to whatever was there

the opportunity was to discover

not to solve

<>

when it came down to solutions

neither of us was prepared 

to do more than we had done

which was enough for the moment

not enough for a life time

perhaps that moment

wasn’t meant to last forever

only to seel like it could

the comfort of hope

not the fulfillment of every demand

<>

I felt I could do and be all that

I know now I can’t

was I lying just to get more of you

while you faked it 

to keep from being alone

were we caught up 

in romantic fantasy

the Hollywood scam

of the right lighting

the perfect delicate song 

floats in the sunshine

<>

a song about fragility and sensitivity

a plaintive voice

plucks of an acoustic guitar 

a hum of harmony

one that makes it to weddings 

<>

we were never heading for a wedding

were we

that was what neither of us realized

something neither of us wanted

breaking dishes breaking windows

breaking hearts

rather than facing the truth

(Jan 2008)

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December 2021 recap

The WP map shows my hits have come from  29 countries around the world. China at #4! Romania & Jamaica in the top 10! Most popular posts were, as expected, the sets of Christmas Lights – Lights Delight. Tied top blogs were Here to Stay & Measuring Up. Both of which are personal faves as well.

Picture Perfect:  98 sections, about 142,000 words posted so far with approximately 45,000 to be edited then posted. I made another major cut of just over 4200 words – fun stuff but a tangent that didn’t add enough to any of the plots. There’ll be more cuts to come in what remains – so maybe Perfect will be done by the end of 2022. Then what?

Watched a great Argentine film-noir La Beastia Debe Morir  adapted from the novel The Beast Must Die. The novel begins with a diary entry “I am going to kill a man. I don’t know his name, I don’t know where he lives, I have no idea what he looks like. But I am going to find him and kill him …” Which is perhaps one of the best openings I have ever read next to “Which one of us is going to kill Mother.” Anyway the film adaptation beings with the killing, eventually gets to the reason. It is tense, heated & excellent. I recorded it from TCM. 

Alan Zweig’s follow up to his 2000’s Vinyl is called, for some reason, ‘Records.’ It is another, less depressing, look at record collectors & what drives them to collect. The collectors run from single men, women, married couples with children, even one gender questioner. Having been an amasser at one point I have major empathy for these people & the lure of one more. Not that I don’t have a vast mp3 collection already, but you know one more is waiting to discover me.

Fortunately, I guess, for me the closing credits that listed all the music played slid past too fast & was too small for me to read 🙂 There was more than one moment of ‘listen to this’ as an interviewee dropped the needle on a track. That brought many memories of me doing the same for a friend. I have to admit I did make note of a couple of lps: J. K & Co., Rusty Kershaw & listened to samples on YouTube but stopped there. Both Vinyl & Records are highly recommended.

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Vaughn Williams Ascending

My first exposure to the English composer Ralph Vaughn Williams (1872 – 1958) was Flos Campis – a wordless piece for choir & orchestra with a clear Debussy influence. It was on the flip side of a recording of An Oxford Elegy – his piece for orchestra & voice (elevated spoken word). He is a romantic impressionist who was often called upon to write for specific celebrations & one of my favourite pieces is The Lark Ascending – an amazing piece written for the end of WWI.

In my collection I have an mp3 cd that includes his English Quartets, Variations for Orchestra, Studies in English Folks Songs & more. Also in this mp3 collection are Wagner Overtures & suites; Bryn Trefoil: Tutto Mozart; L’Album des Six. As stand-alone I have The World Of Vaughn Williams; Symphonies  4&5 conducted by Vaughn Williams with various suites of folk songs & dances; Box set 8 cds of all the Symphonies plus orchestra work & his amazing concerto for two pianos.

The ‘drama’ of his music isn’t as over-the-top as Wagner or say Chopin. Elegant, sublime & at time transcending – as in The Lark Ascending (start with that if you are unfamiliar). The Fantasia on Greensleeves is also a good starter.

Seji Ozawa’s Wagner Overtures & Preludes is an excellent crisp introduction to Wagner; Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel’s Tutto Mozart is a great recording – almost a Mozart’s Greatest hits. L’Albumn des Six features work by French composers Poulenc, Auric, Durey etc.I heard some Auric as soundtrack for a film & sought this out. Excellent works by some under appreciated. almost obscure, modern composers.

The Polishing of the Magi

The Armature Theatre Guild has been forced to cancel this years presentation of “The Polishing of the Magi” – I understand this will come as a disappointment to many of you – especially those of you whose children had been fortunate enough to be chosen to play the parts of the shepherds, lambs, sacrifices, dervishes and of course, the ultra blessed couple themselves.

Rehearsals had been going better than ever, according to Hank Grebly. It was the first time someone other than a member of the McGinch clan had been given the opportunity to direct the production and Hank was making the most of this opportunity.

But alas, as things often do, it all went to the apple press in a hand cart when it was clear that the McGinch’s weren’t willing to allow things to progress smoothly. Not that this comes as much of a surprise either, mind you. We all pay for our indulgence of this family and its anti-social actions. 

But not to give up all hope, as it seems Hank and some of the cast will be presenting a childless clown version of the same story. It may not have the same impact, but the show must go on. We will be spared the often bitter competition over whose baby gets to play the pivotal role of the fulcrum of all religions. That alone almost makes up for not having a full scale production, doesn’t it?

On a lighter note the Visitor’s Mall will be hosting their annual Midnight Madness sale, for those us who have time and need for yet more shopping. As the Mall says ‘Shopping is in the true spirit of the season, and if we don’t spend we just aren’t pious.’

I pray their prayers are answered.

Please note that the left-handicraft fair slated for the Pumpkin County Area has been cancelled. It was to be a fund raiser for the production of the “Polishing of the Magi” & seeing as that has been cancelled, there seemed little reason to have the craft fair. 

Those who had planned to pick up some of Sylvia’s Jams and Moose Tarts can find a display of them at Bea Petratica’s Bridalle Shoppe and at Meg’s Cafe. Get there early as these delicious treats don’t last long.

Sylvia has introduced two new jams this year that I, for one, can’t wait to try. The Orange & Maple Ashes with Nutmage and Quince with Ginger & Bark. I have no idea what bark she has used,  but I’m sure it will be a savoury deflight to perk up those you who are disappointed by the cancellation of the “Polishing of the Magi.”

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The Pentangle and other folk icons

Britain’s The Pentangle is a delightful combination of folk & jazz propelled by the amazing guitar work of John Renbourn & Burt Jansch & the equally amazing voice of Jacqui McShee. I have, over 2 mp3 cd compilations: The Pentangle (1968), Sweet Child (double lp) (1968), Basket of Light (1969), Cruel Sister (1970), Reflection (1971), Solomon’s Seal (1972) their last before breakup of original members.

It’s hard to classify The Pentangle with their mix of Celtic, traditional folk & jazz. Prog-folk as opposed to prog-rock. The music is consistently good as they slip seamlessly from folk, to jazz, to prog & even into renaissance mandrigals. I am most familiar with Sweet Child & Basket of Light. I had the lp of both & when I upgrade to mp3 I added the others. The Sweet Child was expanded with nearly another hour of live & studio material. If you are unfamiliar start with Basket of Light.

The sixties were a hotbed of folk, so also on the cds are: Judy Collins: In My Life (1966), Wildflowers (1967) (Sisters of Mercy, Both Sides Now), Who Knows Where The Time Goes (1968). Judy has a clear strong voice, her choice of material is exemplary. She was one of the first to record songs by Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen & The Incredible String Band.  Her music become less folk though with strings, orchestra, even country backing. Sometime a bit too tasteful for me.

In Canada to folk music wave included Ian & Sylvia: Early Morning Rain (1965), Four Strong Winds (1964). Local folkies in Cape Breton were quick to add some those title songs to their repertoire. Earnest guitar players mixing traditional with these modern, then, song. I recall one autoharp gal doing an endless & morning Early Morning Rain flooded by Lightfoot’s Wreck.

Nina Simone is sort of unclassifiable – female vocalist with a powerful voice, clear political point of view with a mainly jazz approach. Here I have her ‘Nuff Said! (1968) (Backlash Blues), It Is Finished (1974) (The Pusher). She is an iconic iconoclast for her unshakeable stance & her refusal to be ‘softened’ by the recording industry. Her songs are often deeply personal, African, & resonant.

I added John Martyn’s The Tumbler (1968) – his sound is a more rock version of Pentangle. A fine guitarist, vocalist & song writer. I’ve read glowing praise of him over the years & decided it was time add something by him got my collection. Finally is Alan Stivell’s Renaissance of the Celtic Harp (1972) This album revolutionized the connection between traditional folk music, modern rock music and world music. In my Cape Breton crowd this was very popular thanks to its Celtic leanings. One track Ys is a soothing piece includes the sound of waves & seagulls creating one of the first new age templates. A must for any collection.

The Blessing of Presents 

The other event on the week-end that I had the great pleasure in attending was the Blessing of Presents at St. Sufferer’s Cathedral. That Blessing combined with the Lighting of the Trees is a sure sign that the festive season has broken lose upon us full force.

The most reverend Vicar Father Frank started the sacrament with a sermon on the Exulting Power of Wrap – he explained how the wrap of the gift is often more important than the gift it self, and that no matter how lowly a gift may be, it can be elevated by the wrapping.

There’s a lesson I wish I could bring into my own life – on those days when I, yes even I, your willing reporter, feels like the proverbial bed of broken pigs, she finds it hard to even raise her head from the pillow let alone wrap herself in a joyful raiment that would disguise the inner emotionlessness and despair she feels.

The Vicar went on to say that we shouldn’t allow the wrap to keep us from the gift, and that he finds many are so enamoured of that wrap they never get to the true treasure inside. He sort of lost me there, but that didn’t diminish my pleasure at the vast array of beautiful gifts that were brought up, one at a time to receive the sacramental dash of pine needles and moose ashes.

Like the gifts brought on that first Noel, we were brought into the constant and endless circle of presents that was started on that wondrous night.

The ribbon of history reached out and twined its tinselled ends around the hearts & necks of each us, as the children’s stuttering choir of St. Sufferer’s sang several holiday favourites. “Oh Burning Tree,” “The Ribbon and the Manger,”  “The Tinsel and the Camel” – to name just a few.

After the ceremony I was privileged to take a ride through the snowy wood with Hank Grebly in the parade of midnight runners. Skiers, families in sleds and even some on elephants were seen tracking through the wooded glens around our small town. Lanterns aloft and bearing gifts for neighbours. The true savour of the season was felt.

By the time I returned home I was too exhausted to even remove my boots (thanks Hank) and slept as soundly as I have ever slept. Disjointed dreams of a clown’s childhood danced through my head till I woke in the morning. The windows were covered in reddish swirls of frost and the fresh jar of ashes on my mantle sweetened my dreams.

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Peaches in Planes

Peaches is a Canadian performance artist & musician. Her sound is fun electroclash that is hard to label – punk, raw, touch of emo & disco, never overly slick. Lyrically she is directly sexual, challenging any gender norms & fearless. I have, as stand-alone:  The Teaches of Peaches (2000), Fatherfucker (2003), Impeach My Bush (2006) & as mp3 I Feel Cream (2009) w the band Sweet Machine. 

There’s a homemade feel to many of her tracks & even as she uses studio more the sound retains that sensibility – sort of a garage-band electro – which I enjoy. Videos of her live work reveal her to be a performance artist as opposed to a static vocalist. Her voice itself is pleasant enough & she’s a good a vocalist as say Katy Perry but clearly not interested in compromising her sound for crossover appeal. Possibly an acquired taste mind you so try her out on Youtube before investing in a couple of her releases.

Next on the shelf & completely different is People In Planes, a straight ahead rock band out of Wales. These guys are in the U2 mold of rock. I have stand-clones As Far As The Eye Can See (2006), Beyond The Horizon (2008), both of which are excellent if lacking in distinctiveness. I bought the first when I read they were from Wales & was not disappointed. The second continues their sound. The band is no longer together thanks to the usual struggle for fame & internal conflicts.

Not that I’m a patriot but I have added some groups to my collection because they are Welsh & some, like Superfurry Animals, even rock out in Welsh. One way to revive an almost lost language is to take it out of quaint folk music & into rock. I even have a fine, sung in Welsh, electro dance collection by Clinigol, which is excellent.

The Wings Of St. Martinia

Last night Hank Grebly did me the great honour & pleasure of taking me to the Maple Valley Rialto Cinema – it is a shame that this fine building is now only opened on weekends for our film going pleasures. 

I can remember a time when it would be busy seven days a week, offering us the finest in Hollywood films and fresh roasted peaches or tasty caramel bark corn.

Every time I enter the Rialto I am taken back to a distant era – the mirror balls in the ceiling reflect the many spot lights around the floor. The zig-zag carpeting & lame seat coverings make me long for simpler times.

The film Hank took me to was “The Wings Of St. Martinia.” Many of you are familiar with the local tales of St. Martinia & the font at St. Sufferer’s. Those are her blood spattered wings holding the baptismal tub in the centre of the nave. Not her actual wings, but representations. Not many angels would have had five sets of wings.

Like the Rialto this film is also a relic of another time. Recently discovered in the vaults at College of Arts and Reconstructionist Designers, we were first treated to a lecture by Rudgar Quartz, the Professor of Cinema Studies there, who gave the history of both the film, St, Martinia and the Rialto itself. A very educational evening, leavened by the delightful film itself.

The story is a simple one of suffering and repentance through suffering. Martinia, born out of wed-lock to the daughter of silver smith and troupe of travelling carnival workers, had to face the disgrace of her family and neighbours all through her life.

She saved her fellow orphans from the rain of comets in 1879 by waking each and every child, and leading them to safety. Sadly she wasn’t able to get back to rescue any of her teachers. She comforted the children, as they heard the screams of the staff, who had been trapped in locked rooms in the upper quarters of the orphanage.

In leading the children through the swamps to safety she also rescued Button, a Labrador retriever and her recent litter of puppies. This is why the suckling Labrador retriever has become the representation for St Martinia. When they say, she of the many teats, they are referring to Button and not to St Martinia.

A fact that I was not aware of either.

The movie follows her travails in the garment trade, being abducted by pirates and finally her mission to Mongolia where she single handedly brought the word of good to those unhappy and dirty mountain people. Her attempts to show them the joys of washing brought tears of joy to my eyes.

If you have a chance to, get in to see this delightful movie. Tell them Dolly sent you, and you may get an extra dash of moose mustard on your red hots. 

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Ottmar Romero Arthur

By German guitarist Ottmar Liebert I have stand-alone cds: Nouveau Flamingo (1990), Borrasca (1991), Solo Para Ti (1991), The Hours Between Night + Day (1993). He’s classified as new age but for me is more ‘interesting’ than that label. An amazing acoustic guitarist his playing is precise, emotionally appealing & rarely sleep inducing – sleepy is what ‘new age’ implies to me. His sound is consistent through the cds I have & this there is a predictability to the music but it always a welcome presence. The lps become progressively more reflective & less flamingo. If you are unfamiliar Nouveau Flamingo is a great start.

Another fine acoustic guitarist is Brazil’s Romero Lubambo. I have his as part of Trio da Paz’s Black Orpheus (1994), & his solo Lubambo (1999). Both are amazing latino jazz with a touch of folk. The Black Orpheus is an incredible reworking of that sound track. The original soundtrack is also sensational & was responsible for the rise of world music – the film is also amazing. The Trio is joined by the likes of Herbie Mann in their exploration of the soundtrack. His solo work is less folksy, more jazzy & timeless. Very different from the Liebert treatment of latino music – not as slick. Some of it moves from jazz into contemporary classical. Both of these are worth searching out.

Now we come to Hawaiian Arthur Lyman. I have The Best Of 1996 (compilation): American jazz vibraphone and marimba player. His group popularized a style of faux-Polynesian music during the 1950s and 1960s which later became known as exotica. Exotica is a fun blend of cocktail piano jazz with jungle sound effects – bird, monkeys – plus percussion. Songs would have titles like Sleepy Village Sunset. 

Lyman came by his faux by being real a Hawaiian. His piano playing is thoughtful & easy but don’t mistake it for gimmick. He influenced Dave Brubeck & countless other more serious jazz pianists. Exotica  itself spilled over into what became World Music. Countless groups, from Santana to Pink Floyd, also used sound effects so the Lyman influence transcend his niche. Try him you won’t be disappointed.

Arts und Krafts

Kind readers, one thing your reporter neglected to mention in my wee report yesterday was the Christmas Arts und Krafts display at St. Sufferer’s Cathedral’s Fun Fair. Like many of you I have seen my share of knitted booties for rifle stocks and candle holders made out of moose dung but there were some unexpectedly fine pieces from the near by College of Arts and Reconstructionist Designers of Palmixalitato County.

I am well aware of the rivalry that has been going on between the students in that county and our own but remember we did trounce them the last three years in the Provincial Open Court Peach Pit Curling Play Off. So we can afford to allow them to excel at something and excel they did at the Fun Fair.

There were the many charming crystallized bones pieces from the Anatomy of Design classes there. I was particularly taken by the crystallized moose bone reproductions of the Departments of the Cross that one Leslie-Ann Marie-Betty McDellon had created. 

I can’t imagine what sort of skill it takes to do such fine work but I can certainty respect the work that it took. 

Also many were charmed by the spiderwood furniture Gregh O’Treple has wrought there. A sturdy eight legged rocking chair with a fine webbed seat and back was very comfortable to sit in for long periods of time. He hopes to follow in the family footsteps and may be opening his own furniture and restraints shoppe right here in Crab Apple Corners. He will surely be missed in Palmixalitato County. But their misery is always our gain.

Another feature of the Fun Fair that cannot be neglected was the food pavilion. Over 20,000 were seated at one time for a fine feeding of Trish Creamly’s delicious sprung bark toffee pie. Trish you have out done yourself this year. Just save that recipe for my wedding reception. I know if you keep your hands on the crust you’ll keep them off my man – just kidding folks.

The children at the Fun Fair were also treated to a production by the local Armature Theatre Guild. They performed tragic scenes from various plays. The beheading of John the Baptist brought the crowd to their feet and kudos must go to Hank Grebly who did a fine job in the title role of that piece.

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees. Thanks paypal.me/TOpoet